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Wednesday, 13 March 2013
Page: 1845


Mr BURKE (WatsonMinister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities) (09:37): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (Registration Fees) Bill 2013will provide the necessary legal basis for cost recovery for the WELS scheme.

Background

When the WELS scheme was established by the Council of Australian Governments in 2005, the scheme was intended to recover 80 per cent of its costs through registration fees.

In practice, this level of cost recovery was never achieved. The Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Act 2005 provides for charging of fees in relation to a service. The effect of this is that only the costs of registration related activities may be recovered through WELS registration fees. Other activities of the scheme, including compliance and enforcement, communications and product standard development, may only be taken into account in scheme fees when authorised by a cost recovery taxing statute.

The COAG Standing Council on Environment and Water has sought changes to the scheme to allow the realisation of its cost recovery target.

Purpose of the bill

The bill provides the necessary legal basis for the WELS scheme to recover costs for all its activities. Consequential amendments to the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Act 2005provide for the collection and administration of the fees, and are made in theWater Efficiency Labelling and Standards Amendment (Registration Fees) Bill 2013, which we will get to in a moment.

This bill is enabling and mechanistic in nature. It does not itself set the amount of the fees or affect the intended outcome for the scheme registrants. The fees will be set in a ministerial determination, which is a disallowable instrument and which will be made following consultation with the states and territories. The bill does not allow the scheme to recover more than 100 per cent of its costs.

Conclusion

The bill enables recovery of the full suite of scheme costs, supporting a directive of the COAG Standing Council on Environment and Water that the capacity of the scheme to recover costs should be strengthened to ensure the long-term viability of the scheme.

Debate adjourned.