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Thursday, 26 June 2008
Page: 3499

Senator JOHNSTON (12:45 PM) —I want to be very brief on this because this bill, the Australian Energy Market Amendment (Minor Amendments) Bill 2008, is a technical amendment to the Australian Energy Market Act 2004. The Commonwealth and all of the states and territories, with the exception of Western Australia, have agreed to introduce legislation known as application acts to apply the national gas law as law in their own jurisdictions. Western Australia will pass complementary legislation to give effect to the NGL rather than applying the NGL established by South Australian law, as is in force from time to time.

In 2007 there was extensive consultation and briefing—this bill is very largely a bill of the coalition, and the passage of the bill was interrupted by the election—of industry participants in the introduction of legislation to amend the AEM Act. The Australian Energy Market Act also amended the TPA to empower several Commonwealth bodies—the Australian Energy Regulator, the National Competition Council and the Australian Competition Tribunal—to perform key functions under the National Gas (South Australia) Act 2007.

The Ministerial Council on Energy has worked cooperatively and diligently since it was established by the coalition in 2001. The council has worked diligently in developing a framework for an efficient and effective national energy market for Australia. The opposition will be cooperating with the government to assist in strengthening the energy reform program under the ministerial council and delivering the economic gains that are available for such reform.

I seek leave to incorporate the balance of my speech. It is very straightforward.

Leave granted.

The remainder of the speech   read as follows—

The bill will make minor amendments to existing Commonwealth legislation that underpins the national regime for the regulation of gas pipeline infrastructure.

Specifically, the bill will amend the Australian Energy Market Act 2004, the Australian Energy Market (Gas Legislation) Act 2007, the Administrative Appeals (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (ADJR Act) and the Trade Practices Act 1974 (TPA) to correct the year of enactment of South Australian and Western Australian legislation from 2007 to 2008

The new legislative regime will apply the National Gas Law and National Gas Rules in all participating jurisdictions to create a harmonised national gas access regime.

The South Australian parliament has taken the lead in the development of this legislation which is complemented by the enactment of ‘application legislation’ in all other participating jurisdictions (with the exception of Western Australia). Western Australia which has a stand alone gas network will pass complementary legislation to give effect to the National Gas Law, rather than applying the National Gas Law established by the South Australian law. The legislation will replace the current cooperative Gas Pipelines Access Law and provide crucial incentives for investment in gas pipelines.

The South Australian parliament has agreed, as I understand it, to enact the lead legislation for the regime, the National Gas (South Australia) Act 2008, in the first half of this year. The National Gas Law will be the schedule to that act.

This bill makes minor amendments to the Australian Energy Market Act 2004, the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 and the Trade Practices Act 1974 to correct references to the South Australian lead legislation and to Western Australia’s complementary legislation. These amendments will ensure that the Commonwealth’s application legislation correctly applies South Australian and Western Australian legislation in the offshore area, and correctly empowers the Commonwealth bodies under the regime.

The Opposition supports these minor technical amendments to enable the implementation of the cooperative energy reform agenda.