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National rejects Electricity Industry Bill

Tony Ryall National Commerce Spokesperson

Pansy Wong National Energy Spokesperson

29 May 2001

National rejects Electricity Industry Bill

The National Party is pledging to fight the Government's Electricity Industry Bill.

"The Bill gives draconian powers to ministers to circumvent Parliament, does almost nothing for domestic consumers, and discriminates against farmers and landowners," National's Tony Ryall and Pansy Wong said this morning.

Opposition MPs on the Commerce Select Committee have used the evenly split committee to block the Bill's progress. The Bill will be automatically discharged back into the House today, meaning the Government will have to use its majority in the House to initiate and carry any amendments to address the Bill's excesses.

"Parliament's Regulations Review Committee has slated the Government's grab for powers to impose a torrent of rules and regulations on the electricity industry without any recourse or reference to Parliament. The Bill gives the Minister power to direct the electricity governance board, to replace its members at any time without any reason, to over-rule private multi-lateral contracts, and powers for 'all and any purpose' of the legislation.

"Moreover, the Bill forbids any review of the use of these powers by Parliament's regulations watchdog. Regulations Review Committee Chair, and former Speaker Doug Kidd said this is a 'barefaced attempt to usurp the role of Parliament and our committee'.

"Amendments proposed by Government MPs on the Commerce Committee did little to address these concerns. They even tried describing these powers as "emergency powers" to get around the constitutional criticism of Mr Kidd's committee.

"National also believes the Bill will not bring down prices for domestic consumers. The 10% fixed charge proposal will benefit people with holiday baches on the Coromandel, but at the expense of large families in South Auckland.

"Additional red tape, administrative and compliance costs will also be carried by domestic consumers.

"We believe the Commerce Commission should examine all lines companies, not just the large, foreign and privately owned companies explicitly targeted in the Bill. The Government's approach will discourage investment and push up prices.

"The Bill discriminates against farmers and landowners by limiting their rights against line companies, and placing the burden of maintenance and the risk of outage on landowners.

"National intends to fight the progress of the Bill. We will be proposing our own amendments. This Bill and its draconian powers are bad for New Zealand. The longer we can prevent the Government passing this bill, the better," Mr Ryall and Mrs Wong said.

Ends

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