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Tuesday, 16 April 1985
Page: 1057


Senator PETER RAE(5.38) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

I speak very briefly to express my concern that the borrowing policies, which have been adopted by electricity authorities around Australia and which have been encouraged by the actions of the present Government in encouraging further borrowings from overseas, have placed not only the Australian Capital Territory Electricity Authority but electricity authorities generally at very considerable risk of exposure to currency fluctuations, devaluation of the Australian dollar and the cost of repayment and servicing of the borrowings which have been made. The net result has been a very marked increase in the cost of electricity in the Australian Capital Territory and elsewhere. The Australian Capital Territory cost is reflected in the way in which the costing is arranged for the production of electricity which it receives on a more beneficial basis than, I think, any other State or Territory of the Commonwealth. Nevertheless it has seen a significant increase.

The increase, of course, has been far worse in some States than in others. The exposure rate in all is very high indeed, to the extent of a turn from negative interest rates to positive interest rates. We are now seeing the extreme danger in which this country is being placed by the increase in interest rates which is being forced upon the country as a result of the deliberate policies of this Government to try to bolster it up. The policies of the present Government were indicated by the attitudes adopted by the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) during an interview on the National program when he confirmed that the Reserve Bank of Australia had been active in the market, pushing up the interest rates to all Australians, Australians who are borrowing for home or business purposes, and Australian electricity authorities which are providing electricity at ever increasing cost to Australian manufacturing as well as to domestic consumers. It is therefore with some sadness that I note that this Government is imposing an extra electricity cost on the residents of the Australian Capital Territory. This is part of its overall policy of pushing up costs as a result of pushing up interest rates.

Question resolved in the affirmative.