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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 calculated, the consumer pays so much for the first 500 units, so much for an extra amount and then a lesser amount for further consumption. It depends upon when your meter is read. If your meter had just been read, you will pay at the higher rate of the old charge and still have to pay a fair bit extra on the new higher rate because not all meters are read on the same day. It is impossible for all meters to be read on the same day. Maybe we could try and hoodwink the federal government and employ a large number of inspectors so that the meters could all be read on the one day and then they could twiddle their thumbs for the rest of the time. I do not doubt that, in future, electronic means could be used to read the meters. Then, I suppose, we would have the old complaint about people being out of work much the same as shepherds complained when fences where first built. At the moment, I do not see that it is practical to try to do that. It is impossible to have an absolutely fair system. The best thing for any individual would be to have his meter read the day before gazettal. If that happened, he would pay for the last 3-months consumption at the old rate. The worst thing that could happen would be for the meter to be read on the gazettal day because that consumer would be paying for the previous 3-months consumption on the new rate. If you live long enough - a few thousand years - and price rises occur at a random rate, then on average each person would effectively be paying for half of the 3-month period at the new rate. I do not see a way out of it and I am sure that nobody else can either. What is proposed in this bill is exactly what is done in every state. If there had been an easy way out of it which would not cost a great deal more money, it would certainly have been applied. If we were lucky enough to have a price drop, then the whole thing would operate in reverse. I do not suppose too many imagine that that could happen but it is possible. The sheer cost of trying to obtain an absolutely fair system would outweigh the advantages. I see no better way out than what has been proposed. I am sure that NTEC will not be wasting the extra money. It will put it to Territorians' good advantage. On that note, I support the bill. Mr ISAACS (Opposition Leader): Mr Speaker, I thank the member for Alice Springs for supporting the position put by the member for Sanderson because that is precisely what he did. He pointed out the inequity of the proposal of the government although he did not quite understand what the member for Sanderson was saying. I will explain it to him again in one-syllable words so that it sinks in. The member for Sanderson explained the inequity that will apply if this bill is passed. That is why the opposition is opposed to the bill. Within the government there is a recognition that the proposal to bill people for electricity consumed prior to a date of fixing an increase of electricity charges is inequitable because, in so far as the supply of water and excess water rates are concerned, that was recognised in a gazettal in June this year. The system of averaging to which she alluded is applied to excess water consumption. If it can be applied to excess water consumption, my guess is that it can be applied to electricity charges. It can be done very simply indeed. Meter readers check the meter reading, check the previous meter reading and use tables to calculate the charge. If there has been an electrcity increase during the period of consumption that is being charged for, then an averaging system can be used as is done with the water supply. There are no complications such as indicated by the member for Alice Springs. I understood he was a physics teacher before he came to the Assembly and that he understood a bit about mathematics. One can determine how much electricity is being consumed, apply the old rate to the extent that it applies for that period of time under the averaging procedure and the balance will be charged for under the new rate. You do not start the new rate again to overcome the flag-fall problem he spoke about. There is no problem; it is a 1285