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Parliamentary record : Part I debates (19 August 1981)



Parliamentary record : Part I debates (19 August 1981)


Debates for 3rd Assembly 1980 - 1983; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 3rd Assembly 1980 - 1983




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Wednesday 19 August 1981 I would like to hear the facts about how much extra this will cost. As the Leader of the Opposition said, there is no need whatever for this nonsense put forward by the member for Alice Springs that you have to get your meters read. There is no need for that at all. It is done with water rates. I can remember when I spent a considerable amount of time consuming electricity without a meter. There was no problem charging; there was simply an average-cost charge. The argument put forward by the member for Alice Springs was that, if you cannot get a completely fair system, then you should substitute with a totally unfair system. As the Leader of the Opposition said, averaging might not get a completely fair result but it is certainly better than simply saying that, for administrative convenience, we will charge at the higher rate for electricity which was consumed at the lower rate for the previous 2 months - we are putting the price up today and for the previous 2 months we are making it retrospective. I would have thought that members opposite would reject that kind of philosophy. It is a cold, hard fact - I know from my own experience - that living in Darwin is becoming hellishly expensive. I do not want to bore members with my personal details. The only reason I mentioned it is because I am in the same boat as a lot of other Darwinites. I am not a public servant. Therefore, I do not qualify for subsidised housing. Therefore, like a lot of other people living in Darwin, I pay the full rate for my housing. The repayments on my home loan just frighten the daylights out of me every time I think about them. I sometimes wake up in a cold sweat thinking about the repayments on my prefabricated palace in Lee Point Road that cost me $75,000. On top of that, I found out yesterday that the council is about to increase its rates by 10%. So we are paying house repayments, insurance on the house, a fairly steep increase in rates and no doubt that that will be substantiated. The cold, hard fact is that it is an expensive place in which to live and anybody who doubts that should look at the government's own submission to the Grants Commission because the facts and figures are in there. I reject completely the view that, because we are subsidised for electricity, we should not scream about having to pay extra for 2 months of electricity which we thought we were paying X amount for. It would be easy and equitable for NTEC to average the charge - as it used to as a matter of course when no one had meters - and obtain a more reasonable figure. There is no need to read people's meters. I would like to hear from the minister. He makes this throw-away statement that it will be too expensive to do it. I would like to hear from him how much he thinks it will cost for the administrative staff of NTEC to simply average out over that period of time how much it would have cost at the lesser rate. It might not be a completely fair way of doing it but it certainly would be a lot more equitable for th~ consumer in an already expensive place than it would be to adopt this totally unfair system of simply saying that, for administrative convenience, we will charge you. A great scream goes up - and it is something that consumer protection bureaus look at very closely - when retailers charge increased prices for old stock. It is something that comes up all the time. It can be rigorously checked so that new stock carries the new prices and old stock continues to be sold at the old prices. It is an equitable system that operates in normal retail business. But for the government's convenience and for NTEC's convenience, people who already pay a considerable amount of money in Darwin will simply be charged money that they should not be charged. As the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, that was something conceded quite happily by the member for Alice Springs. No doubt the constituents of his electorate will be very pleased to see that he concedes it is inequitable but, because it is for the convenience of the government that he belongs to, they will just have to wear it. 1288