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Wednesday, 22 August 2012
Page: 9626


Mr DREYFUS (IsaacsCabinet Secretary, Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and Parliamentary Secretary for Industry and Innovation) (16:53): Australia has an opportunity to move to a clean energy future and cut pollution before the task becomes more difficult and costly. The purpose of the carbon price is to make the economy grow stronger but with less pollution. The opposition has made all sorts of claims. We have heard them in here today during the matter of public importance continuing with those claims. But the fact is we will support existing jobs and we will help create new jobs in new industries. The greenhouse and energy minimum standards legislation will support Australia's efforts to grow a stronger economy.

The member for Flinders raised a very important issue which was raised by the Lighting Council Australia in consultations with the department and in its submissions to the Senate inquiry. The government acknowledges that information obtained under the act, including product data, may be commercially sensitive. The need to protect commercially sensitive information was a high priority during the development of the national GEMS legislation. The Australian government has included legal and administrative safeguards in the improved E3 program to protect commercially sensitive information. These safeguards were detailed in a response to the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee inquiry into the GEMS legislation. On 15 August 2012 the Senate committee recommended that the bills be passed.

The legal protections for data include an offence by any government officer who shares information for reasons not authorised under law. The national legislation also prohibits commercially sensitive information obtained under the E3 program being disclosed in courts or tribunals. Legal safeguards will be supported by the regulator's information handling policy. The information handling policy will provide clear guidance for government officers on how to handle and protect information obtained under the act. With these safeguards and the lessons learned from New Zealand's existing data reporting program, the government is confident that information obtained under the GEMS legislation will be appropriately protected.

The greenhouse and energy minimum standards legislation represents the close collaboration of the Australian government, state and territory governments and Australian businesses. With this legislation, Australia's popular Equipment Energy Efficiency Program will be a more effective and truly national program. The GEMS legislation will replace seven overlapping state laws and four state regulators, bringing considerable efficiencies for Australian businesses. The legislation will ensure that energy efficiency regulation is better coordinated within Australia and across trans-Tasman markets. Australian businesses have voiced support for the GEMS legislation and the improvements it will bring to the E3 program. The improved energy efficiency program will deliver significant savings for all Australians and assist Australia's transition to a low-carbon future. Energy efficiency measures stand to save Australian households and businesses billions of dollars per year. The Australian government is pleased to deliver these savings to all Australians.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.