Page 3195 - Week 10 - Thursday, 15 August 2013

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MR BARR (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Sport and Recreation, Minister for Tourism and Events and Minister for Community Services) (8.47): The ICRC plays a vital role in the efficient operation of the territory economy. The commission provides advice to government about non-discriminatory access to monopoly or near-monopoly infrastructure, and also advises about price-regulated industries.

Through its work, the commission helps to ensure access to utilities through the application of reasonable pricing. As its name suggests, the commission provides a mechanism for prices to be determined in an independent manner, at arm’s length from government, and with the best interests of consumers in mind. This mechanism for providing independent pricing is a vital function performed by the commission.

An efficiently operating market benefits consumers through lower prices and better products and through competition. That is why the ICRC plays such an important role in our local economy. I commend this appropriation to the Assembly.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (8.48): At last, perhaps something we can agree wholeheartedly with the Treasurer on. The ICRC are a very important commission for the ACT, and I think the importance of what they do has been borne out by the draft determination in February and the things that happened subsequently.

Without labouring the point, recommendation 7 on page 17 of the estimates committee report deals with the section on the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission. Recommendation 7, which we have already had a number of discussions and debates about this week, simply said:

The Committee recommends that the Appropriation Bill debate not be brought on until such time as the Treasurer has presented an amended bill and relevant budget documents detailing the effect of the ICRC determination on the ACTEW Water dividend and balance sheet.

Of course, the government has chosen to ignore that, so we are having this debate with documents that are not accurate, that are not up to date, and probably in defiance of the Financial Management Act of the ACT.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Proposed expenditure—Part 1.24—Legal Aid Commission (ACT)—$10,246,000 (net cost of outputs), totalling $10,246,000.

MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (8.50): The Legal Aid Commission is an arm of government set up to ensure that vulnerable people in our community are not disadvantaged when it comes to the need for them to have legal representation.

Notwithstanding the good work of the commission, this government’s funding continues to spiral downwards, meaning that less and less people in our community—

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