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Monday, 16 November 2009
Page: 11713


Mr OAKESHOTT (5:54 AM) —by leave—I move amendments (1) to (11) as circulated in my name:

Clause 1, page 1 (line 8), omit ‘Australian’, substitute ‘Independent’.

Clause 3, page 2 (line 15), omit ‘Australian’, substitute ‘Independent’.

Clause 4, page 3 (line 6), omit ‘Australian’, substitute ‘Independent’.

Part 2, page 8 (line 1), (heading), omit:

‘Australian’

substitute:

‘Independent’.

Clause 10, page 8 (line 5), omit:

‘Australian’

substitute:

‘Independent’.

(6)    Clause 10, page 8 (line 6), omit ‘Australian’, substitute ‘Independent’.

(7)    Clause 10, page 8 (line 8), omit:

‘Australian’

substitute:

‘Independent’.

(8)    Page 8, after clause 11, insert:

11A   Authority not subject to direction

                  The Authority is not subject to direction by the Minister in relation to the:

performance of the functions conferred on the Authority by  the Parliament; and

              (b)    publication of information under Part 12 of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Act 2009.

(9)    Clause 19, page 11 (lines 11 to 13), omit the clause, substitute:

19   Period of appointment for members of the Authority

The Minister must appoint a Member of the Authority for a period of 5 years.

A person who has been appointed as a member of the Authority may be appointed for second period of 5 years.

         (2)    A person who has been appointed as a member of the Authority for two five years periods is not eligible for appointment for a further period.

(10)  Clause 41, page 22 (lines 2 to 9), omit the clause, substitute:

41   Minister may advise Authority

         (1)    The Minister may, by legislative instrument, advise the Authority of the Minister’s views as to the priorities that should be given by the Authority to the performance of its functions.

         (2)    Advice given under subsection (1) must have regard to the provisions of section 11A.

         (3)    The Authority must give the Minister, in writing, a response to any advice it receives from the Minister under subsection (1).

(11)  Title, page 1 (line 1), omit:

‘Australian’

substitute:

‘Independent’.

I will not ask for a division on these amendments because they are very similar to the amendments I put forward on previous legislation that has gone through the House this afternoon. I really just want to reinforce the point about the value of independence—no pun intended. I think there is a longstanding issue with regard to the CPRS legislation that is passing through this place, and that is the issue of ministerial discretion. In the 440 pages that are sitting on the table, it is mentioned at least 20 times that the minister has the authority to decide on key framework questions. I think that is a danger if we are genuinely building a market based response to the natural resource question of our time. We need to let the market rip in this case. Despite what prime ministers have previously said about the dangers of markets, in this case we do need to let the market rip. We need to allow the market to operate as free from the political process as possible. Under that principle, ministerial discretion is a danger, and it needs to be built out of the scheme in the future. So I would ask Minister Combet—and future ministers—to look at the issue of ministerial discretion and the authority of the executive in shaping the market with regard to this climate change response. It is for that reason that these amendments try to build an independent process a la the Reserve Bank and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

The minister used the word ‘historic’. If this scheme is historic then it needs the science to fly. The way for that to happen is to have an independent regulatory authority and not have the executive and minister being responsible for many of those key framework questions. Whilst not seeking a division, I raise this issue once again. I certainly hope that, if not this government, future governments will consider building independence into the CPRS for the national interest.