Page 4448 - Week 12 - Thursday, 26 October 2017

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an intention to do so, but the introduction of these provisions is a prudent step to protect the ACT in the unlikely event that it were to occur. To ensure that generators do not get wind of this current loophole, for want of a better word, these provisions have retrospective impact in that they commence on 14 September, when the bill was first introduced. I note that the scrutiny of bills committee did not raise any serious concerns about the retrospectivity of these provisions, and the Canberra Liberals support these provisions in the bill.

Moving to the reasonable costs provisions in the bill, this section creates the right of the ACT energy distributor, ActewAGL, to pass on the costs of the FiT scheme and the costs of administering the scheme to energy retailers. The bill has a number of measures to ensure that these costs are reasonable, and there are associated reporting requirements to the minister, who has oversight powers to determine whether they are, indeed, reasonable costs.

The Canberra Liberals do not support section 20A at clause 6 of the bill, which expressly gives the distributor the right to pass on costs to retailers, which we all know will be passed onto consumers. I will speak more on this and move some amendments when we get to the detail stage. Although I acknowledge the reality that any cost of providing electricity is, in one way or another, ultimately passed on to consumers, the government should be looking at every possible way it can to keep energy prices down for all Canberrans.

Including an express right by legislation to allow costs to be passed on from the distributor to retailers flies in the face of the other provisions in this bill, which specifically and carefully purport to prevent the distributor from passing on costs to retailers—and in turn, consumers—willy-nilly. Subject to the amendments I will move in the detail stage, the Canberra Liberals support the reasonable costs framework contained in the remainder of the bill.

MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong—Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Minister for Justice, Consumer Affairs and Road Safety, Minister for Corrections and Minister for Mental Health) (12.04), in reply: I thank Ms Lee for her comments on the bill. The Electricity Feed-in (Large-scale Renewable Energy Generation) Act was passed in 2011 and has worked to secure the supply of all the large-scale renewable electricity needed for the ACT to reach its 100 per cent by 2020 renewable electricity target. Again and again it has been held up by independent reviews, industry and other governments as an example of effective and innovative policy, setting the example for other jurisdictions around Australia to follow.

Today’s bill provides important updates reflecting the progress made and the new operational phase of the act as we seek to maintain and secure the achievements this pioneering legislation has delivered. When the ACT’s reverse auction scheme was developed in 2011 nothing like this had ever been attempted in Australia and there were no legislative precedents for the government to draw on. The act needed to ensure that the territory’s interests were secured while providing compelling commercial opportunities to industry so as to generate competition and reduce prices.

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