Page 333 - Week 01 - Thursday, 17 February 2011

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We do believe it is possible to create a more orderly transition through the existing mechanism in the legislation by adjusting the price, the premium tariff, that is available to people who install a smaller system, and that that can be used to turn down access to the system in an orderly way.

This amendment I think actually addresses that policy desire and it also provides a safety valve in the sense that it enables the minister to set the cap at a future time if necessary. I think that is a useful backup. As we sat down to try and draft this amendment and think about how to reflect that policy desire, this mechanism came out. I believe it offers the ideal opportunity, which is to use the existing mechanism in the legislation whilst acknowledging that, if for some reason that does not work and my argument is proved to be wrong, the minister can set a cap at a later point in time if absolutely necessary.

So I commend this amendment to the Assembly as a sensible way of meeting the policy objective without providing that potential for a bust moment some time down the track in 18 or 24 months time. As we saw from Saturday’s Canberra Times, some of the small business operators are already starting to anticipate demand, and to some extent already starting to generate it by saying: “Quick. Get in now before it’s too late.” I think the momentum in that sort of sense, that mentality, can only grow, and, as I have described it, I think we are going to see a very frantic 12, 18, 24 months and then the potential for a very dramatic stop when that point is reached.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water, Minister for Energy and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (4.52): The government will not be supporting Mr Rattenbury’s amendment. Whilst I understand Mr Rattenbury’s concerns about this issue, and we have had some useful conversations about it, there does seem to me a bit of a contradiction in the Greens’ position because the Greens are saying they oppose a cap for the micro category but they are prepared to support a cap for the medium generator category.

Obviously, if the concern is valid for one, it is going to be valid for the other. So there is a bit of a contradiction there in that they are concerned that a cap might lead to a boom-bust in micro but they are not expressing the same concern about the medium generator category. That does not seem to be consistent from my perspective. Nevertheless, with the concerns that the Greens have, whilst relevant in the context of what has occurred in some other jurisdictions, you cannot compare the arrangements here in the ACT with those in New South Wales. In New South Wales, the premium price was set at an abnormally high level. It was set at a level that was clearly unsustainable from day one, and there had to be a dramatic wind back of that. But, that said, the wind back in New South Wales was far too severe and led to the bust. So it was the dramatic change in the premium price in New South Wales that drove the boom-bust cycle there.

Here in the ACT, with the regular yearly price review mechanism, where the minister must determine the premium price following a process of advice from the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission, we have not seen that same cycle perpetuated to date. We have seen already a scaling back of the price as the affordability and the efficiency of small scale PV has improved. That, combined with

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