21 March 2016

3rd Reading Speech

The Hon. ADAM SEARLE (Leader of the Opposition) [6.29 p.m.]: The Opposition has taken a constructive approach to the Electricity Supply Amendment (Advanced Meters) Bill 2016—it is not opposed to smart meters. Properly used, smart meters are the gateway to the smart grid and giving consumers, as well as the network, greater leverage over consumption and power over their households. The circumstances and shaping of this bill leave unanswered a significant number of questions in relation to how and in what way those with rooftop solar will benefit from rooftop solar generation post the closure of the Solar Bonus Scheme. It leaves open the issue of whether households will have to foot the bill when switching to smart meters and whether they need to switch to smart meters in order to continue to benefit from their rooftop solar. Of significant importance is maintenance of the present high levels and standards of skill and accreditation for those performing meter installation work.

I note what the Government has said about these matters. The Opposition pressed its amendments in good faith and listened carefully to the Parliamentary Secretary. The Opposition’s concerns have not been addressed properly or adequately in response to the amendments or the shaping of the legislation. While Labor remains supportive of the notion of properly adopted smart meters, it has concerns about some aspects of the bill and those concerns are of such a nature that it will be unable to support the third reading. Although the bill was not rushed through in a single day, there are some important issues associated with it that should be tilled over thoroughly by the relevant general purpose standing committee. That is why the Opposition has proposed the amendment. There should be a quick and adequate inquiry into the issues in a less combative environment that draws on expert opinion from the industry. I urge honourable members to support the amendment. I indicate that if the Opposition is unsuccessful in persuading the House to refer the bill to a committee, it will oppose the third reading of the bill.