Thursday, 15 March 2012

Solar Power Generation

Extract from NSW Legislative Assembly Hansard and Papers Thursday 15 March 2012.

Mr ROB STOKES: My question is directed to the Minister for Resources and Energy. What does the final report of the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal into a fair and reasonable value for solar electricity mean for New South Wales electricity customers?

Mr CHRIS HARTCHER: This is the last answer for the week so perhaps members will listen with some indulgence. I thank the Parliamentary Secretary for Renewable Energy—the only Parliamentary Secretary for Renewable Energy in Australia—for the great work he does on renewable energy. Yesterday the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal brought down its final report on the Solar Bonus Scheme which was the subject of some interest in the House over the past year. The report recommended that the payment for the feed-in tariff by those who have solar panels on their roof should be between 5.2¢ and 10.3¢ per kilowatt hour. The Government takes on board that recommendation as well as the further recommendation that it not be mandated on the companies, but that they should be invited to participate in the scheme. Since 28 April 2011 when the old 20¢ scheme—the successor to the 60¢ scheme—closed, 27,900 people have signed up and shown their commitment to reducing their electricity bills and playing a part in protecting our environment.

If this recommendation is accepted by the companies, they will now be entitled to that payment of between 5.2¢ and 10.3¢. As I have said before, it goes to show that people in New South Wales are happy to make their commitment to the environment—they do not need to be bribed by the Australian Labor Party or The Greens. As members would be aware, that 60¢ an hour has blown out the budget by $1.7 billion as a direct result of the neglect of the member for Blacktown and Leader of the Opposition, who admitted at his first press conference that he did not monitor the scheme. Not only did he not monitor the scheme; there are other things he also failed to monitor. This afternoon we have heard a lot about the forgetfulness of the member for Wollongong. We all understand how easy it is for someone to forget about $60,000; people do it every day. It is the sort of thing that people generally forget on a daily basis.

The SPEAKER: Order! The Minister will return to the Solar Bonus Scheme.

Mr CHRIS HARTCHER: But what would members say about someone who took $30,000 to perform certain work and who did not do that work? What would members say about a person who was paid $30,000 by the people of New South Wales in 2006 and 2007—

Dr Andrew McDonald: Point of order: My point of order relates to relevance under Standing Order 129. The question was about the Solar Bonus Scheme.

The SPEAKER: Order! I am waiting to hear how the Minister will make that relevant, and I am sure he will do that. The member will resume his seat; I take his point. I am sure the Minister will show how it is relevant.

Mr CHRIS HARTCHER: The people of New South Wales participate in the Solar Bonus Scheme to reduce their bills so they will not have to pay higher taxes. However, that $30,000 is now part of those higher taxes because someone was paid $30,000 to do certain work and to attend 10 board meetings. That person did not attend any board meetings; he took that $30,000 and never returned it. We will await his personal explanation at the end of question time. I am sure it will be as short as the personal explanation of the member for Wollongong, who forgot only once, but he forgot on 10 occasions.

Mr Brad Hazzard: Who was it?

Mr CHRIS HARTCHER: It was the member for Blacktown. Did members think I was speaking again about the member for Wollongong?

The SPEAKER: Order! The Minister will return to the question.

Mr CHRIS HARTCHER: The Solar Bonus Scheme, which forms part of the electricity process of this State, encourages electricity generation. One piece of legislation on which members voted only last night related to electricity generation. Last night one member of the Labor Party refused to vote with that party. Last night one member went to the Australian Financial Review and said that she did not agree with Labor policy on electricity generation. One member—the member for Heffron—did not back her leader. The member for Heffron does not support the member for Blacktown, who took over from her as Leader of the Opposition in this State. The member for Blacktown has a lot to answer and we await his personal explanation.