Thursday 14 October 2010
Hansard of the Legislative Council
ELECTRICITY SUPPLY INDUSTRY EXPERT PANEL BILL 2010 (No. 46)
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - There is no doubt that the establishment
of this panel is timely. It is a long wait until the end of
August next year, but the panel has an incredible amount of
work before it. Madam President, I do not see much in the
second reading speech or the Government's fact sheet or the
terms of reference about the development of alternative energy
sources and I think I would have liked to see much greater
emphasis on that part of our future. After all, our hydro
resources do seem to be fully developed and are subject to
drought and certainly any future carbon trading scheme or
tax can only restrict thermal power generation in the future.
So it is obvious that we need to develop alternatives. Reading
the material that I mentioned a short while ago, I suppose
there is scope for the panel to look closely at a future energy
mix. In the second reading speech is the line:
'The Government considers that a key point in the ongoing
energy reform process has been reached. It is therefore important
that an independent assessment of the industry now be undertaken
to assess its current status, energy mix, the assumptions
that underpin it and to provide guidance for ongoing development.'
So there is at least a reference to the energy mix in the
future and also, in the terms of reference, it came up in
'Actions that would guide and inform the development of the
Tasmanian Energy Strategy, particularly in relation to the
Government's primary objectives of minimising the impact on
the cost of living in Tasmania and ensuring Tasmania's long-term
energy sustainability and security.'
However, it is hard to read a firm commitment there about
what wind, solar and other alternative energy sources might
provide from these two references. So if alternative energy
is not at the centre of this inquiry I believe that the Government
may have lost an opportunity, but it may be something that
the Treasurer may care to comment on in wrapping up the debate.
Just in the terms of reference it seems to me that the panel
does not have the power to investigate how Aurora actually
accumulated its large financial liability. The panel obviously
just has to accept that there is a big deficit and the terms
of reference could have enabled the panel to inquire into
and report on the management that oversaw the accumulation
of that large debt.
Ms Forrest - There have been a few clues as to what caused
that, like the blowout in the billing cost, that new billing
system they put in, the price gouge that Hydro was doing in
the last year and a couple of other times since to a lesser
degree. There have been a few flags.
Mr FINCH - Yes, but probably comparisons too with the private
sector might be a bit odious but the mind boggles with the
thought of a similar situation in the private sector if that
occurred; heads would roll and the board would be embarrassed
Ms Forrest - There would be a few changes at the top I reckon.
Mr FINCH - Well, I do not know; is the management of Aurora
embarrassed? We do not know.
I am wondering whether the panel too can comment on the three
companies and the three boards of management - that is the
Hydro, Transend and Aurora. It would seem to me, from my reading,
that the panel cannot comment on the efficiency of the three
separate companies dealing with one product before it is supplied
to the consumer. Again, what would happen in the private sector
if that was the case? Apart from those couple of reservations
that the Treasurer may comment on, I support the proposal.