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Carbon tax repeal would save average Canberra home $228 a year

Date

Phillip Thomson

Senate crossbench including AMEP Senator Ricky Muir, PUP Senator Dio Wang, PUP Senator Jacqui Lambie, PUP Senator Glenn Lazarus and the Greens, during the swearing-in of new senators at Parliament House.

Senate crossbench including AMEP Senator Ricky Muir, PUP Senator Dio Wang, PUP Senator Jacqui Lambie, PUP Senator Glenn Lazarus and the Greens, during the swearing-in of new senators at Parliament House. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Canberra Raiders legend Glenn Lazarus quoted JFK as he pushed for all savings from the carbon tax abolition to be fully and immediately passed onto customers and told the Senate some Canberrans had been house-sitting in Queensland to escape harsh power bills.

It comes as figures show the average Canberra home will save $228 a year in electricity costs when the carbon tax is scrapped.

On his second day as a senator, the ex-prop – the Palmer United Party's Senate leader – put forward an amendment to the Coalition's carbon tax repeal package.

The proposed changes were crafted to force energy companies to explain in power bills how savings had been fully passed on.

The Queanbeyan-born Mr Lazarus elaborated his argument by telling the Senate about the effect of the carbon tax on energy bills in the national capital.

"In 2013 when I was campaigning for election to the Senate in Queensland I took a short break and visited family in Canberra," he said.

"While in Canberra I became aware of an elderly couple that are forced to house-sit in Queensland each winter because they simply cannot afford the cost of heating their own home in Canberra.

"Every winter they have to leave the comfort, familiarity and safety of their own home just to survive the cold winter months.

"What sort of country have we become?"

The senator then added a quote from US president John F. Kennedy's inaugural speech from 1961: “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich."

A public gallery heckler interrupted Mr Lazarus and the interjector was warned by Senate President Stephen Parry.

On Tuesday morning the ACT's main energy supplier, ActewAGL, said it was unsure when the savings would flow through to its customers because it depended on when the tax was removed.

The federal government was confident of repealing the carbon tax, perhaps as early as this week.

But the government was reliant on the support of the Senate, specifically the help of Palmer United Party senators as well as independent Nick Xenophon, Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm, Family First's Bob Day and Motoring Enthusiast Ricky Muir.

In the ACT the savings from repealing the carbon tax were already going to be passed on following a decision by the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission, and some other regulators across Australia have made similar decisions.

ActewAGL's general manager of retail Tony Muckle said the ICRC had estimated an average territory household with an annual electricity consumption of 8000 kWh paid about $1959 during 2013-14 for electricity.

It was estimated an average ACT household would pay $2044 a year based on carbon-inclusive prices during 2014-15.

If the carbon tax was repealed, the same average ACT household would pay $228 less during 2014-15, or a total of $1816.

"Given the current uncertainty surrounding the timing and details of the proposed repeal legislation, we are not in a position to provide a detailed plan or timeline for the removal of the carbon price component from our energy prices," Mr Muckle said.

"We can, however, confirm that any adjustments to energy pricing as a result of the repeal of carbon legislation will be passed on to our customers in accordance with our legal and regulatory requirements."

Price adjustments would also be passed on in full for gas bills.

"Before ActewAGL can determine the exact impact on 2014-15 gas prices, an approval of the gas network charges, without the price of the carbon component, must be provided by the Australian Energy Regulator," Mr Muckle said.

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