Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 22 August 2017) . . Page.. 3170 ..
Doing that would allow the public at large, and water ratepayers, to scrutinise how 10 per cent of the revenue is spent. Also, it might draw the issue to the attention of the Senior Commissioner and the other staff of the ICRC so that they might be able to determine whether Icon Water is appropriately expending this $27 million and, if not, whether that money should be collected through water tariffs.
The Canberra Liberals recognise the considerable complexities of the legislation and regulations surrounding water supply and prices. We also acknowledge the difficulties in having semi-privatised organisations such as ActewAGL, especially when the ownership is somewhat indirect, through Icon Water. You just need a simple glance at ActewAGL’s organisational chart, which resembles the old noodle nation. I think it is a good example of the complexity that the Chief Minister touched on.
We know the financial pressure that has been put on residents across Canberra by increasing water tariffs. To that end, absolutely anything that can be done to reasonably bring down or to decelerate the rate of water tariff increases is worth pursuing.
MR BARR (Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Minister for Tourism and Major Events) (6.54): I will very quickly close the debate. The ICRC is a statutory body established by an act of this place, a 1997 act. Three main objectives outlined in section 7 of the act are:
(a) to promote effective competition in the interests of consumers;
(b) to facilitate an appropriate balance between efficiency and environmental and social considerations;
(c) to ensure non-discriminatory access to monopoly and near monopoly infrastructure.
The commission’s functions, as outlined in section 8, include setting prices for regulated services, including regulated water and sewerage services, and retail electricity prices for small electricity customers; licensing utility services; regulating access to infrastructure for regulated services; investigating and reporting on competitive neutrality complaints; and a range of other regulatory and administrative matters.
I can advise the Assembly that during 2017-18 the major piece of work that the commission will undertake is a pricing investigation to determine the prices that will apply from 1 July 2018 for regulated water and sewerage services provided to the community by Icon Water. I commend this area of expenditure to the Assembly.
Very quickly, in response to the Leader of the Opposition’s comments, I refer him to the government response to the estimates committee report, which I think would go to address most of the issues that he raised, including the welcome acknowledgement of elements of commercial in confidence that would relate to the documents that he seeks.