Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 26 October 2017) . . Page.. 4453 ..
I return to the need for our amendment which, unsurprisingly, focuses on costs. We do, however, recognise the bill’s intent of creating a framework to ensure that costs that may be passed on are “reasonable costs” and “the transparency this scheme creates”. Therefore, I am moving the amendment to the bill that removes the express right of the distributor to pass on these costs to retailers but preserves the framework in determining reasonable costs. It is disappointing that, I understand, the government and the crossbench will not support my amendment. It seems that they have their hearts set on achieving an environmental goal at any cost. It is unacceptable that the cost is going to hit the most vulnerable Canberrans most.
The intent of my amendments is to provide a simple but important change to proposed section 20A in clause 6 of the bill in that they seek to remove the express right of the distributor to pass on costs to retailers. The amendments have been drafted deliberately to allow the remaining provision in clause 6—namely, the framework in determining “reasonable costs” and the accountability measures—to be preserved.
This will continue to allow the minister’s involvement in the reasonable costs determination but does not expressly bestow on the distributor a right to pass on costs to retailers and, in turn, to consumers. The distributor will still be required to report the payments made under the FiT scheme and associated administrative costs to the minister, as well as historical data and cost recovery data.
It also places an onus on the distributor to forecast costs associated with the FiT scheme, which no doubt is designed to bring more certainty to the scheme generally. The minister will still be able to use this information to determine reasonable costs and request an audit of the information. The offence provisions are also retained.
As the minister has said, this bill will place an obligation on the distributor to make sure that costs are not passed on without a robust framework in which costs are deemed “reasonable”. With our amendments we will continue to keep a close eye on the tripartisan support for a renewable, reliable and affordable approach to energy in the ACT. I commend my amendments to the bill to the Assembly.
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) (12.21): I understand the intent of Ms Lee’s amendment, which is about ensuring that we effectively manage costs to households. That is certainly an objective the government has in this scheme as well in seeking to achieve good environmental outcomes and positioning the ACT’s energy supply in the future, but at the same time making sure that this is an affordable option for Canberrans.
Unfortunately, the advice given to me is that the wording she has proposed will not work in the legislation as it stands. It is important that the legislation is clear about the ability of the distributor to pass through costs to the consumer as part of the feed-in tariff scheme.