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
Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Wednesday 19 August 1981 pay the price which is app.ropriate at the time of consumption and that is the only point that I was making in the second reading. I accept that we are tied to north Queensland rates and I accept the fact that the federal government is very generous in its subsidy to Northern Territory electricity consumers, but the only point of this bill is the method of charging. All these other matters are merely peripheral. The clause specifically relates to the manner in which the meter will be read and that the consumption will be deemed to be for the entire quarterly period. It was also mentioned that there are a large number of meters and that they all could not be read on the same day. Of course, that is ridiculous. It is ridiculous to suggest that an army of meter readers would go out to every premises on the day of the increased charges and read the meters. It is not intended nor is it expected by consumers. Exactly the same thing happens in the case of water meters and, whilst I accept that the turnover of water revenue is much lower than that of electricity revenue, I am asking the ministers concerned to take some kind of consistent approach to charging for public utilities. No consumer is asking for the meter reader to read his meter on the day on which the new charges come into effect. What I am asking though is that the consumption period be apportioned to take account of the old rate and the new rate. This is quite a simple matter. We have only 2 dates that matter here: the end of the consumption period and the date on which the increased charges some into effect. It seems to me that it would not be beyond a meter reader to determine the rate of charges taking into account those 2 dates. Mr EVERINGHAM: I am pleased that the member for Sanderson is prepared to pay the electricity tariffs at the north Queensland rates. As I understand the purpose of this bill, that is all that is being asked of the people of the Northern Territory. The position is that the Northern Territory is tied in its price-fixing arrangements for electricity. Those arrangements are recognised by people in the electricity industry around Australia as the most favourable arrangement in Australia. We heard the Minister for Mines and Energy say that, in north Queensland, increased tariffs are generally announced in Townsville or Cairns by the boards there on 30 June each year. This is not to say that there are no other increases from time to time. Of course, those we cannot cater for. The problem is that in north Queensland they have been making plans behind closed doors to implement the increases from the date of the announcement. In the Northern Territory we hear of them on the date that they are publicly announced, namely 30 June, and the Northern Territory is not in a position to implement those increases from the next day - 1 July. I therefore suggest that this bill is to tell the people of the Northern Territory that they should regard their electricity increases as commencing from the date on which they are announced in Townsville. Clause 2 agreed to. Title agreed to. In Assembly: Bill reported; report adopted. Mrs LAWRIE (Nightc1iff): Mr Speaker, I rise to reiterate 1 point which was not answered by the minister and that is that we are now telling consumers of electricity in the Northern Territory that we will sell them power at a rate which may be determined from time to time but with no guarantee of that rate at the date of consumption. I think that is totally inequitable. Mr TUXWORTH (Mines and Energy): Mr Speaker, let me deal with the issue of equity and inequity. I think it is equitable in the sense that it is a rate that 1292
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