Page 2569 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 2 July 2008

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MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (11.19): It is interesting that we are debating the commencement and shuffling the commencement around because last week the opposition received a number of inquiries from members of the public who were interested in the feed-in tariff, and asking why we had delayed the introduction of the feed-in tariff by way of the vote of no confidence that was taken last week, which put a seven-day stay on the passage of some legislation, because they were waiting, as Dr Foskey said, to see the introduction of this feed-in tariff.

I was able to point out with some relish, I suppose, to people who had written to me on this matter that, irrespective of whether it was passed last Wednesday, the Wednesday before or today, it will not change the commencement, which could be as late as 1 July next year. Mr Stanhope and, to a lesser extent, Mr Gentleman, were saying, “We have this really important piece of legislation that we’re just sweating on passing so that the people of the ACT can get this benefit,” when there was no immediate benefit that would accrue from the passage of this legislation.

Mr Gentleman has said that the passage of this legislation will be delayed, possibly until 1 July this year, because of the complicated nature of the regulations that will underpin this piece of legislation. I suspect that is true. This is a complex piece of legislation because of its impacts on the national energy market and all of those harmonisations arrangements. As a result of this, a large number of amendments are being brought in today by Mr Gentleman because the first version of the bill does not quite do it. This is not to be critical of Mr Gentleman; it just underpins the complexity of what is being done and the difficulty with going it alone. I understand why Mr Gentleman wants to go it alone, and I applaud him for his enthusiasm for wanting to go it alone. But I hope that in the long term the ACT is not going it alone on feed-in tariffs and that we do have a national approach.

The other issue regarding why we are looking at a commencement date which is on or closer to 1 July 2009 is that, on the basis of the information that I received from the ICRC, electricity distribution companies will have to absorb the cost of the application of the feed-in tariffs before that date because that is the next time that electricity prices can go up. So if we introduce the feed-in tariff tomorrow or on 18 October or on Christmas Eve, with respect to the time between when it is introduced and 1 July next year, the 44.8c paid to people as part of the feed-in tariff will have to be absorbed by the utilities.

We know that this feed-in tariff means that the community will be paying more per capita for electricity, but what we will be doing will have a modest impact. It will have only a modest impact in six months; it might be only $100,000. But that $100,000 will also have to be absorbed by the electricity distribution organisations—ActewAGL and others—who are operating in the ACT. That is one of the reasons why the 1 July date is so important.

We will be supporting this amendment, simply because it is necessary. But I put on the record that last week and the week before there was a fair amount of spinning about how the Liberal opposition were holding up this legislation and that we were stopping my constituents in the Jamieson SEE-Change group and other constituents who are keen on the introduction of this legislation from getting the benefits of that. That is not the case. It is up to the fiat of the minister, Jon Stanhope, to commence this bill at some time, and it is more likely than not to be closer to this time next year.

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