Page 2267 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 22 June 2011

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those low income financially disadvantaged households who are struggling with these issues and who do need our assistance as a community.

MR SPEAKER: Dr Bourke, a supplementary question?

DR BOURKE: Can the minister tell the Assembly how the ACT government supports low income earners dealing with rising electricity costs?

MR CORBELL: Yes. I can tell the Assembly that in the most recent budget the government provided $12.35 million over the next four years to substantially increase the ACT energy concession. This is all about ensuring that those on low incomes get an effective rebate on their energy and other utility bills. The $12.35 million investment over four years comprises just over $4 million over that period to increase the maximum level of rebate for the energy concession to 16 per cent of the average household electricity bill. The government is also providing $8 million of that total $12 million over a four-year period to mitigate the impact of the recently announced increase in the average water price, which takes effect from 1 July this year.

This energy concession is provided for eligible cardholder residents of the ACT and currently is paid to 25,000 Canberra households. The concession means that those low income households, whether they are owner occupiers or whether they are renters, receive an additional $131 a year in their energy concession. As I previously indicated, this entirely offsets the most recent electricity price increase—in fact, it more than offsets it—for those low income households.

This is a good example of a Labor government working to protect low income households. We will not accept the assertion from those opposite that this sort of assistance should be provided to everyone who, the claim is made, is struggling. We must provide the assistance to those on low incomes—

MR SPEAKER: Order! Thank you, Mr Corbell; your time has expired.

Mr Corbell: those who are vulnerable—

MR SPEAKER: Sit down, Mr Corbell.

Mr Corbell: those who are financially disadvantaged—

MR SPEAKER: Mr Corbell, sit down, thank you.

Mr Corbell: and that is what we will do.

MR SPEAKER: Ms Porter, a supplementary?

MS PORTER: Minister, did the ICRC report make any reference to the contribution of clean, renewable energy programs on the electricity prices paid by Canberrans?

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms Porter for the question. Yes, the ICRC did comment on this matter, and they indicated that, of the six-and-a-bit percentage increase that they

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