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Wednesday, 25 June 2003
Page: 17445


Mr SLIPPER (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration) (10:58 AM) —I move:

That the amendments be agreed to.

The Energy Grants Credit Scheme gives effect to the commitment made by the government in May 1999 under Measures for a Better Environment to replace the Diesel Fuel Rebate Scheme and the Diesel and Alternative Fuels Grants Scheme with a single unified scheme. Under the Energy Grants Credits Scheme, a person will be entitled to off-road credit when purchasing diesel fuel for use in eligible activities that are the same as those activities currently eligible for a rebate under the Diesel Fuel Rebate Scheme.

Similarly, a person will be entitled to an on-road credit when purchasing fuel for use in activities which are the same as those activities that were eligible for a grant under the Diesel and Alternative Fuels Grants Scheme. In this way, the Energy Grants Credits Scheme will maintain benefits equivalent to those available under the existing schemes.

The Energy Grants (Credits) Scheme (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2003 brings the administration of the Energy Grants Credits Scheme under the administrative and compliance framework contained in the Product Grants and Benefits Administration Act 2000. This means that the on-road and off-road credits will now be administered under a uniform code of requirements. In addition, the system of public and private rulings in the Taxation Administration Act 1953 has been extended to the Energy Grants Credits Scheme in order to provide greater certainty to claimants in relation to the eligibility of activities for a grant or rebate.

The Energy Grants (Credits) Scheme Bill 2003 also aligns the point of entitlement under the on-road credit with the off-road credit point of entitlement. This will allow businesses to claim an on-road credit when they purchase or import fuel for use in eligible on-road activities, rather than having to wait until the fuel is used before being able to claim a credit. This change should provide cash flow advantages to businesses as well as streamline claiming arrangements. The Energy Grants Credits Scheme will apply from 1 July 2003.

The amendments agreed to by the Senate, which will be supported by the government, insert a number of clauses into the bill to replicate current provisions in the Diesel and Alternative Fuels Grants Scheme Act 1999. These clauses allow for the commencement of the scheme to be subject to certain vehicle standards being met, provide that the states and territories are bound and define the purpose of the Energy Grants Credits Scheme. The amendments also allow for a determination to define a journey under the on-road credit as a disallowable instrument and to provide for public consultation for draft determinations. The amendments also clarify that an off-road credit is not paid when persons are undertaking environmentally damaging activities, such as taking turtles and dugong in fishing operations or engaging in actions prohibited under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The passing of the Energy Grants Credits Scheme bills provides certainty to all recipients under the current diesel rebate and grant schemes. On that basis, I commend the amendments to the House.