Page 749 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 8 April 2014

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after the inclusion of new sections 20A to 20C for tier 2 retailers electing to pay an energy savings contribution. I commend the amendments to the Assembly.

Amendments agreed to.

Remainder of bill, as a whole, as amended, agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.

Sitting suspended from 12.07 to 2.30 pm.

Ministerial arrangements

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): The Chief Minister will be absent from question time this week on the trade mission with the Prime Minister. I will take questions in the Chief Minister’s portfolios.

Questions without notice

Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission—water pricing

MR HANSON: My question is to the Treasurer. Treasurer, the recent Auditor-General’s report on the water and sewerage process cited advice from Mr Peter Hanks QC that:

... because the Treasurer’s reference to the ICRC dated 13 October 2011 omitted to specify the period in relation to which the ICRC was to decide on the level of prices for services, the Price Direction made by the ICRC in Report 6 of 2013 is invalid because, without the referring authority having specified that period, the power conferred by s 20(1) of the ICRC Act could not be exercised …

Treasurer, why did you not specify the period for when the ICRC was to make its price determination?

MR BARR: The act does not require that specification. The particular legal opinion is just that—a legal opinion. The ICRC commissioner put it succinctly:

Legal opinions, even when from a QC, don’t invalidate the price direction, only a judge can do that.

The commissioner went on to point this out:

Over its sixteen year life, the Commission has received a number of references requiring the provision of a price direction where either the period for which the direction was to apply was not stated or where the Commission was asked to determine the period. In those cases the Commission has dealt with such references by determining the period for which the price direction applies. Examples include the 2006 electricity terms of reference, 2001 gas investigation and the 2001 taxi fare investigation.

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