• Max Bradford

The Coalition Government is on track to deliver lower electricity prices to all consumers, Energy Minister Max Bradford said today.

"The Electricity Industry Reform Bill is important microeconomic legislation designed to give consumers choice and lower prices.

"It is important to get the legislation in place sooner rather than later in order to give the industry certainty for the future and to give consumers lower prices - particularly as we face the fallout and uncertainty generated by the Asian economic crisis.

"It is also important that the technically complex detail of the Bill is right," Mr Bradford said.

"We realise we are working to a relatively tight timetable, but over the past couple of days we have given a number of interested groups the opportunity to see the redrafted Bill with the Select Committee's amendments. As a result, we have had some valuable input which is being incorporated into an SOP relating to technical drafting details on a couple of points."

Mr Bradford said the Labour Opposition was showing its total lack of understanding of the reforms and process.

"Labour leader Helen Clark has failed to demonstrate her Party has any grasp of the important issues at the heart of this Bill, and she is instead wasting time on cheap political point scoring."

Mr Bradford said the Coalition Government will not be distracted by sniping from the cheap seats on the other side of the house.

"This legislation is an important part of the Government's goal of enhancing the environment for doing business in New Zealand, as well as lowering prices for householders.

"At a time when our economy is under pressure because of external influences it is especially important that the Government move quickly to support our productive sector by reducing costs. The only thing the Labour Opposition offers business is increased uncertainty and higher costs.

"There has been a lot of debate about this legislation, with many of the energy companies turning their considerable resources towards protecting their own interests.

"The Government is here to serve the interests of all New Zealanders, not just the interests of the energy sector, and is determined to make progress with in this important policy area."