Page 4452 - Week 12 - Thursday, 26 October 2017

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Bill agreed to in principle.

Detail stage

Bill, by leave, taken as a whole.

MS LEE (Kurrajong) (12.16), by leave: I move amendments 1 to 4 circulated in my name together [see schedule 1 at page 4502].

The Canberra Liberals will always stand up and fight against any measure that has the potential of burdening Canberrans with higher energy costs. We have seen numerous reports of Canberrans who are being forced to choose between heating their home in winter or cooking dinner due to the astronomical increases in energy prices. We acknowledge there are a number of factors that the government cannot control when it comes to energy prices. However, this is one factor that it can.

In tabling the bill last month the minister boldly stated in his presentation speech, seemingly on behalf of all Canberrans, that we are willing to pay the associated $5.50 per week or $286 per year. The Canberra Liberals have in the past queried the origins of that assessment and remain sceptical about whether the numerous Canberra families seeking concessions in droves agree with the minister’s claims.

After all, I am sure he has no problem shelling out an extra $5.50 per week for the feel-good buzz that he is doing something for the environment and also for the countless Canberrans already doing it tough with this government’s exorbitant hikes in rates, fees and charges. An extra $5.50 per week will make them think twice about whether they turn on the heater in the winter or the air-conditioner or cooler in the summer.

For a government that professes to care for the most vulnerable members of our society, to propose a mechanism which will see potentially even more energy costs ultimately passed on to consumers, by legislation no less, is simply unacceptable.

Of course, this lack of appreciation of costs is not a new theme for this government. Only yesterday, in speaking to Mr Steel’s motion on all things renewable and green, I raised a very valid and a very important point about affordability and reliability, a point which resulted in the minister for transport, a very senior member of the government, responding in a way that I found, quite frankly, insulting. She said, “I am still reeling somewhat from a speech from the opposition spokesperson on this matter but I think it stands on its own merits or lack thereof.” Madam Speaker, the minister responded to a point I raised about affordability and reliability to say that she was, “Reeling.”

I trust that my words will stand on their merit just as this government’s record will stand on its lack of merit and lack of integrity across so many areas, not the least of which is the reckless approach to spending ACT ratepayers’ money to satisfy sometimes unrealistic and unaffordable demands of their Greens partner.

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