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Govt to address rural electricity concerns

1 June 2001 Media Statement

Govt to address rural concerns with electricity Bill


The Government will address rural landowner concerns with the Electricity Industry Bill when the legislation goes through the House, Rural Affairs Minister Jim Sutton and Energy Minister Pete Hodgson said today.

The ministers said amendments agreed by the Commerce Committee in response to submissions from rural interests would be introduced despite the Opposition blocking the committee's report to the House.

"The bill aroused some unnecessary concern in the rural community that landowners would be made liable for electricity line maintenance and the cost of access tracks. In fact, the Bill as introduced had none of those effects. There will be comfort clauses introduced to clarify that this is the case," Mr Hodgson said.

The Government also agrees with the Commerce Committee that greatest comfort will be given to landowners if clause 7 in the Bill, which deemed lines constructed before 1993 to be lawfully fixed, is simply dropped.

The test for whether work constitutes maintenance or not has been amended in line with a proposal from Federated Farmers. In addition, line owners will be explicitly required to give notice to landowners before coming onto their land to work on the lines, and landowners will be able to set reasonable conditions for access.

Mr Sutton said he had taken careful note of concerns about the Bill expressed by rural landowners and had taken up the matter with Mr Hodgson.

"I am satisfied that the Bill can easily be amended to reflect rural concerns, without affecting its substance," Mr Sutton said. "The pathetic headless chookery of the National and Act MPs on the Commerce Committee will not stop us making the necessary farmer-friendly improvements."

ENDS

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