Electricity Supply Amendment (Energy Savings Scheme) Bill 2015

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT (Prospect) [11.07 a.m.]: I speak in debate on the Electricity Supply Amendment (Energy Savings Scheme) Bill 2015. What a great Labor policy. I commend the Government on it. It is sensational. It is such a shame that the Minister is not here. There is a Nationals representative in the Chamber; the member for Upper Hunter is here. That is great to see. I love it when Labor legislation is presented by a Nationals or Country Party Minister. It shows that The Nationals have much more in common with the Labor Party than they will ever have with their Coalition partner. This week is the anniversary of the Labor Party in Victoria governing with the support of the Country Party. That is fantastic. This legislation has come from Labor policy. The measures in this bill will affect almost every household. As the Minister said, there will be savings in certain areas. That is really good. It is good to see that The Nationals are still in touch with their constituents. It is a shame that the Liberals are not. I commend the Government on this legislation.

TEMPORARY SPEAKER (Ms Melanie Gibbons): Order! I remind the member for Prospect to direct his comments through the Chair.

Mr Gareth Ward: It is entertaining.

TEMPORARY SPEAKER (Ms Melanie Gibbons): Order! I am sure that the member for Kiama finds it entertaining, but the member for Prospect has the call.

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT: The New South Wales Government is doing a good job in following Labor's lead. I congratulate the Government on that. Saving electricity is essential for the New South Wales economy. The member for Miranda made a valid comment on the impact of the bill on manufacturing. I congratulate her on that. I had not thought about it, but the member is right: electricity savings will have an impact on all industries. There will be an impact in the electorate of Prospect, especially in the Wetherill Park, Smithfield industrial estate, Eastern Creek and Huntingwood. That is brilliant. It also has an impact on the environment, which is good. It is good Labor policy that is being put through, but it is shameful that we did not get to do this more apolitically and have the opportunity to discuss it more over the past few days. As the member for Strathfield said, taking us by surprise and being thrown this in the morning did not give us enough time to work with the Government and make sure that this is a very good piece of legislation.

Mr Gareth Ward: I thought it was good Labor policy?

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT: It is. If the Government wants to look at our past policies and put them through that is fine. We are happy to work with the Government to do that; it is not a problem. We are in a democracy so let us work together in this Chamber and not just try to ambush the other side. Let us be honest: We would never try to ambush the Government.

Mr Jai Rowell: Not successfully.

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT: I cannot possibly comment on such things. This legislation will impact on the hip-pocket of people in New South Wales. Since the New South Wales Government is selling off a perfectly good and profitable State business to the quickest offer it may as well save energy at the same time. It will be very interesting to see what the impact will be when the Government finally sells the assets, the poles and the wires.

Mr Gareth Ward: Just like you sold the generators and the retailers and the Commonwealth Bank and Qantas. You sold everything that wasn't bolted down.

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT: There were some parts of the assets that needed to be sold, but there are some parts that should not be sold. That debate has been had and it has been lost, unfortunately. We will see what the impact will be on the hip-pocket of people in New South Wales. I think we all agree in this Chamber that it is important for New South Wales that an energy savings target be implemented and followed and that we need to make use of advances in technology to reduce New South Wales' energy consumption. I believe that using a market mechanism to do that is the best way.

The Energy Savings Scheme [ESS] was established under Labor in 2009. It is a New South Wales based mandatory energy efficiency scheme for electricity retailers and other participants under the Electricity Supply Act 1995. It assists households and businesses to reduce electricity consumption and electricity bills. What a great initiative. The primary objective of the ESS is to create a financial incentive to reduce the consumption of electricity by encouraging energy-saving activities. The ESS works by placing an obligation on New South Wales energy retailers and large energy users to purchase energy savings in the form of certificates every year. This bill expands the scheme to include gas, which is consistent with what is included in Victoria, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory, and extends the lifetime of the scheme to 2025, which is currently set to end in 2020.

The bill also will increase savings targets from 5 per cent in 2015 to 7 per cent in 2016, 7.5 per cent in 2017, 8 per cent in 2018 and 8.5 per cent in 2019. It also will better recognise energy savings in regional New South Wales by introducing a regional network factor or multiplier of 3 per cent in the Essential Energy regional network. Since 2009 the ESS has assisted the implementation of energy efficiency projects that have saved some 12,000 gigawatt hours. Between 2009 and 2013, certificate providers created 8.8 million energy savings, or 0.7 million residential certificates, 6.7 million commercial certificates and 1.3 million industrial certificates—equal to 8,291 gigawatt hours of energy saved.

This has been estimated to provide savings worth close to $1.7 billion to energy consumers in New South Wales by 2025. As I have said, we are supporting this bill. The Opposition sees this as a great piece of Labor Party policy that is being progressed by the Government. Let us be honest: Good policy should be progressed by either side. The Opposition is always happy to work with the Government on good policy; it is just a shame that there is not enough of it. I commend the bill to the House.

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