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ELECTRICITY PRICES—SELECT COMMITTEE—APPOINTMENT

The Parliamentary Secretary for School Education and Workplace Relations (Senator Collins), at the request of the Minister for Finance and Deregulation (Senator Wong) and pursuant to notice of motion not objected to as a formal motion, moved government business notice of motion no. 1—

 (1) That a select committee, to be known as the Select Committee on Electricity Prices be established to inquire into and report on:

  (a) identification of the key causes of electricity price increases over recent years and those likely in the future;

  (b) legislative and regulatory arrangements and drivers in relation to network transmission and distribution investment decision making and the consequent impacts on electricity bills, and on the long term interests of consumers;

  (c) options to reduce peak demand and improve the productivity of the national electricity system;

  (d) investigation of mechanisms that could assist households and business to reduce their energy costs, including:

   (i) the identification of practical low cost energy efficiency opportunities to assist low income earners reduce their electricity costs,

   (ii) the opportunities for improved customer advocacy and representation arrangements bringing together current diffuse consumer representation around the country,

   (iii) the opportunities and possible mechanisms for the wider adoption of technologies to provide consumers with greater information to assist in managing their energy use,

   (iv) the adequacy of current consumer information, choice, and protection measures, including the benefits to consumers and industry of uniform adoption of the National Energy Customer Framework,

   (v) the arrangements to support and assist low income and vulnerable consumers with electricity pricing, in particular relating to the role and extent of dividend redistribution from electricity infrastructure,

   (vi) the arrangements for network businesses to assist their customers to save energy and reduce peak demand as a more cost effective alternative to network infrastructure spending, and

   (vii) the improved reporting by electricity businesses of their performance in assisting customers to save energy and reduce bills; and

  (e) investigation of opportunities and barriers to the wider deployment of new and innovative technologies, including:

   (i) direct load control and pricing incentives,

   (ii) storage technology,

   (iii) energy efficiency, and

   (iv) distributed clean and renewable energy generation.

 (2) That the committee present its final report on or before 1 November 2012.


 (3) That the committee consist of 8 senators as follows:

  (a) 4 to be nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate;

  (b) 3 to be nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate;

  (c) 1 to be nominated by the Leader of the Australian Greens in the Senate.

 (4) That the committee may proceed to the dispatch of business notwithstanding that all members have not been duly nominated and appointed and notwithstanding any vacancy.

 (5) That the committee elect as chair one of the members nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

 (6) That, in the event of an equality of voting, the chair has a casting vote.

 (7) That the committee has the power to send for and examine persons and documents, to move from place to place, to sit in public or in private, notwithstanding any prorogation of the Parliament or dissolution of the House of Representatives, and have leave to report from time to time its proceedings and the evidence taken and such interim recommendations as it may deem fit.

 (8) That the committee be provided with all necessary staff, facilities and resources and be empowered to appoint persons with specialist knowledge for the purposes of the committee with the approval of the President.

 (9) That the committee be empowered to print from day to day such papers and evidence as may be ordered by it, and a daily Hansard be published of such proceedings as take place in public.

Senator Xenophon, by leave, moved the following amendment:

 After paragraph (3), insert:

 (3A) That:

  (a) participating members may be appointed to the committee on the nomination of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate or any minority party or independent senator;

  (b) participating members may participate in hearings of evidence and deliberations of the committee, and have all the rights of members of the committee, but may not vote on any questions before the committee; and

  (c) a participating member shall be taken to be a member of the committee for the purpose of forming a quorum of the committee if a majority of members of the committee is not present.

Question—That the amendment be agreed to—put and passed.

Senator Fifield, by leave, moved the following amendment:

 After paragraph (1)(e), insert:

  (f) any related matter.

Statement by leave: Senator Fifield, by leave, made a statement relating to the matter.

Question—That the amendment be agreed to—put and passed.

Main question, as amended, put and passed.