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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 19 November 2015) . . Page.. 4295 ..

ever-dwindling number of customers who have to pay more for gas. There are still the checks and the balances associated with the role of the Australian Energy Regulator.

The Labor government’s view is that this is a matter for consumers to decide. It would appear to me that the Greens are verging incredibly close to saying that we should ban gas. That is not my view and it is not my colleagues’ view. It is a misguided view. Let me be very clear. This is the wrong way to approach this issue. Let us make sure consumers have good choices and let us make sure consumers are able to save energy and reduce their energy costs. That is exactly what this government is doing. We are giving them choice by making sure that we are switching to what we know is, long term, a cheaper and more reliable form of energy through large-scale renewable energy generation. We are deploying energy efficiency savings into tens of thousands of Canberra households which is reducing their costs. A lot of that is being done in low income households, the very people that Mr Rattenbury is saying he is concerned about. That is the way to handle this issue. Consumers will ultimately decide but, as a Labor government, we are not interested in an agenda which would seem to be suggesting that we ban gas.

There are some other issues of concern with this motion. The first relates to the request in the motion that there be a submission to the Australian Energy Regulator. It is not the view of the government that the government should be telling the regulator what the tariff should be for gas or electricity. That is why we have an independent regulator. We do not want to go back to the bad old days where the government decided what the tariff was for these types of essential utilities. That is why we have an independent regulator. The government is not interested in being in the business of suggesting to the regulator what the price should be.

Furthermore, some of the time frames in this motion are completely unreasonable. I note that Mr Rattenbury has conceded that with his very late amendment. His initial proposal was that not only should the government make a submission to the AER but also it should do it over the Christmas-new year period and make it available by the beginning of February. Quite frankly, Mr Rattenbury’s office should know better. Trying to get something done over that time frame was completely unreasonable. They have conceded the point, belatedly, but it disappoints me that that proposition was raised at all.

The bottom line is this: we need to give consumers choice to decide the energy source that is most efficient, most economic and most effective for them. We should do that in a way that also helps them to save money in their homes and reduce their energy consumption. That is exactly what we are doing as a jurisdiction. We can be very proud of the work that we are doing in establishing large-scale renewable energy generation for our city. We know that that step change will see more and more people not use gas and instead use electricity. But we do not believe that we should simply close off the use of gas to the community, which is the proposition, effectively, that we are hearing from the crossbench. My Labor colleagues and I will not be supporting this motion today either in its original or amended form.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (5.19): With that strong opening by Mr Corbell, I am not sure whether I am here as a marriage counsellor or a divorce lawyer. There appears to

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