Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) — I rise to speak on the Energy Legislation Amendment (Flexible Pricing and Other Matters) Bill 2012. I will make a brief contribution. This is a great piece of legislation from the government.
It provides consumers with choice, free-market innovation and economic benefits, all of which Liberals absolutely love. I am proud to stand here and very briefly talk on this bill.
I will pick up the shadow Treasurer, the member for Tarneit, on his statement about the need for a review and what he said was our waste of a review looking at smart meters. When the previous government started to implement smart meters it had a 20 per cent overrun — $415 million overrun, and only up to 20 per cent of the meters had been installed. We ensured that the manufacturers could not charge any additional money, and we had zero overrun. If the rollout had continued under the Labor Party, that $415 million cost to taxpayers would have become billions of dollars. We saved a large amount of money just by being fiscally responsible. I would hope the shadow Treasurer would understand how important it is to have fiscal responsibility when you implement a program.
It is something that unfortunately the Labor Party knows nothing about when it comes to rolling out a program. It was full of good ideas but very poor when it came to implementation. We took over this program and ensured that we did it properly and sensibly, and we gave consumers choice.
This is a great piece of legislation. It allows consumers choice, it allows them to try the off-peak, the shoulder peak and peak periods depending on when they wish to utilise their electricity. Most importantly, if they are unhappy with the program, it is a voluntary program, which allows them to get out of it.
I also want to mention briefly that I was with the minister when the Switch On website was introduced, which was a great initiative to provide education to consumers about how they can save money on energy. As a government we have found it important to provide education about saving electricity, in contrast to the Labor Party, which tried to slip smart meters in without telling anybody.
Members of the public were none the wiser when smart meters were first introduced under Labor, and that is what caused the hoo-ha. We came to government and ensured that consumers knew what the program did and what they were signing up for. They now know what the economic benefits are.
This is good, sensible legislation by a sensible government that is getting on with reform. We are ensuring that we do the right things by Victorians. I commend the government and the minister on the great work he has done in energy saving in a free market system that allows people to get on with the job and do what they can and which provides choice to consumers — choice that we as Liberals are proud to offer and I am sure that consumers are proud to take up. They will take this up. When it comes to things like running dishwashers off peak, this initiative can reduce costs by up to $40 a year. There are lots of savings and lots of benefits, and I — —
The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Tilley) — Order! The time appointed by sessional orders for me to interrupt business has now arrived. The member may continue his speech when the matter is next before the Chair.
Business interrupted pursuant to sessional orders.