Page 726 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 26 February 2013

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decreases in the costs of water and sewerage services. We will need to examine the detail and impacts of this in detail but we are very pleased to see that the ICRC has not recommended any increases in water and sewerage prices.

The ICRC has also recommended moving to a six-year regulatory period with biennial assessments. This is a common-sense and very practical recommendation. This enhanced flexibility in pricing is something that the government has been advocating for. There is considerable detail within the ICRC’s recommendations. So it is premature at this moment to comment at length or in detail about them until we have had the opportunity to consider them and discuss them with stakeholders.

Separate from pricing, the ICRC has also made recommendations about the governance of ACTEW. The government will also consider these recommendations after receiving the ICRC’s final report later in the year.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Gentleman.

MR GENTLEMAN: Minister, what impact will the draft recommendations have on consumers of water and sewerage and on the government’s dividend from ACTEW?

MR BARR: The draft recommendations do propose changes to the price of water and sewerage. The draft decision as proposed would likely reduce dividend payments in the current regulatory period via reduced revenues and tax equivalent payments. The government is currently reviewing the specific impacts of the ICRC’s proposal and what those impacts will be on the dividend received from ACTEW. I can say that preliminary advice suggests ACTEW’s revenues could be impacted in the order of $80 million per annum. This is of course something that will need to be considered in the detail of our submission to the ICRC and, indeed, in the submission of community members and stakeholders.

It is important to state here that the government needs to strike a balance between ACTEW’s contribution to government revenues and to the broader community—most importantly, the interests of consumers within the territory and the interests of the environment.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Seselja.

MR SESELJA: Minister, will you follow the recommendations of the ICRC to reduce prices by 16.9 per cent or will you allow Canberrans to continue to pay the highest water prices in the country?

MR BARR: The government will, of course, participate in this consultation process. We certainly support a reduction in prices—the extent of which needs to be considered in the context of the range of issues that I have just touched on. In my opening remarks I did indicate we were very pleased that there was not an increase in price. We are also very pleased with a number of the recommendations in relation to spreading the cost of some of the important water security projects over a longer period of time and the pricing path, a six-year model with biannual advice and determinations. We think there is a lot of common sense in those recommendations. I

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