Page 622 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 22 February 2012

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for trial. And that is the way it should be. So changes to the law that encourage improvements in reporting are a good thing.

I think it is still early days in terms of the SARP reforms because we have, overall, still quite a low level of those matters moving through the criminal justice system. Therefore, it is difficult to ascertain any trend at this point in time, given the relative immediacy of the changes to the law. Nevertheless, my directorate continues to keep a close watch on these matters.


MR HARGREAVES: My question is to the Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development and concerns the solar auction. Can the minister provide the Assembly with an update on the large-scale solar auction now underway?

MR CORBELL: I thank Mr Hargreaves for his question. Members would be familiar that at the last election Labor made the commitment to establish Canberra as the solar capital of Australia. I am pleased to advise the Assembly that we are moving forward with the implementation of that major election commitment.

In the last year we have seen this Assembly pass legislation to allow for the nation’s first large-scale feed-in tariff to support commercial-scale solar generation. That is an innovative measure, a measure never before implemented in Australia for large-scale solar, and we have seen a very positive response to that.

We have seen, of course, other mechanisms that have been tried by other governments around the country, such as the solar flagships program at a commonwealth level. We have seen that there have been significant market risks in this model, resulting in projects stalling for months or years on end, particularly because generators have been unable to secure power purchase agreements and financiers and/or their government backers have got cold feet.

With the large-scale feed-in tariff, we are seeking to eliminate that risk. The way we are doing that is through a contract for difference. What this means is that the feed-in tariff will only be paid at the level which is the difference between the wholesale price of electricity and the feed-in tariff set at the auction. Of course, as the wholesale price of electricity continues to rise over the next couple of decades, as all commentators observe that it will, the difference between that price and the price for renewable power as set under the feed-in tariff will diminish. That means the amount of pass-through cost to consumers will also continue to diminish.

My directorate has received a very strong level of interest since the passage of the large-scale solar feed-in tariff legislation. We have announced the first auction—20 megawatts of entitlements to be awarded this year and a further 20 megawatts to be released by early 2013. This will allow this government to fulfil its commitment in establishing Canberra as the solar capital of the country.

MR SPEAKER: Supplementary, Mr Hargreaves.

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