Page 1977 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 25 June 2008
supporting the National Gas (ACT) Bill 2008, as we are in favour, nationally, of the energy market reforms.
This bill will increase efficient investment in energy infrastructure, which will in turn lead to long-term benefits for all ACT energy consumers. We the opposition are in favour of the government amendment to have this bill come into action on 1 July 2008 in line with the commencement of the National Gas (South Australia) Act 2008 in South Australia. This bill should also be passed to stay in line with the COAG Australian energy market agreement. If the bill were to fail here, and not commence on 1 July 2008, then clearly the ACT would be responsible for preventing the national gas law from commencing in any other jurisdiction around Australia, effectively putting this national initiative on hold; we do not want to do that.
The national gas law replaces the current gas pipelines access law as the third-party access regime for gas network infrastructure. The national gas rules will replace the gas access code. The national gas bill also goes to further the goal of convergence of national gas and electricity regulation. It shares many common areas with the national electricity law, which came into action on 1 January this year.
This is a template law where other states and territories apply the relevant schedules from the South Australian legislation as laws in their own jurisdiction through the use of application acts. We see this as an uncontroversial law. We do not see this reform as being a commonwealth legislative takeover. Having the ACT as well as all the other states and territories move into line on this bill is a step in the right direction for energy market reform on a national level and will clearly lead to a more effective and efficient market outcome for the territory’s energy consumers. I commend the bill to the Assembly.
MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Minister for the Environment, Water and Climate Change, Minister for the Arts) (8.04), in reply: The ACT is continuing to participate in the national energy market reforms that are rationalising the economic regulation of energy across Australia. These reforms will lead to a more effective and efficient energy market outcome that will benefit the territory’s natural gas consumers. The energy market reforms have been ratified by the commonwealth and all states and territories under the COAG Australian energy market agreement, which schedules the transfer of most state and territory energy market economic regulation functions, including those related to natural gas, to a national regime that sees the phasing out of associated jurisdictional functions.
The bill being debated now will apply a national gas regulatory framework consistent with the national gas law, regulations and the national gas rules in the ACT. It is complementary to the revised national electricity law, which came into effect across all jurisdictions on 1 January this year. The regulatory framework will transfer the governance and institutional arrangements of the current gas access regime to the national framework, with the Australian Energy Regulator assuming responsibility for economic regulation and enforcement and the Australian Energy Market Commission assuming responsibility for rule making and market development. It replaces the current gas pipelines access law as the third-party access regime for gas transmission and distribution infrastructure along with the national gas rules that replace the gas access code.