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Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Page: 6231


Mr DREYFUS (Isaacs—Cabinet Secretary, Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and Parliamentary Secretary for Industry and Innovation) (10:53):I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards (Registration Fees) Bill 2012 accompanies and supports the main Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards Bill 2012.

The main GEMS bill implements a commitment by the Council of Australian Governments to establish national legislation to regulate energy efficiency. The national framework will improve Australia's existing Equipment Energy Efficiency Program by replacing seven state and territory legal frameworks with a single, nationally consistent law. The national framework will also allow the expansion of the E3 program in the future.

The enhanced E3 program will retain many existing practices, including a requirement for businesses to register regulated product models. Registration will allow Australian consumers to research and compare different products on the energy rating website. Registering products will also assist the national regulator to monitor trends in energy efficiency.

Consistent with existing practice, the national regulator will charge fees when businesses register their products. This bill, the Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards (Registration Fees) Bill 2012, grants the national regulator the power to set registration fees.

The purpose of registration

Registration fees will recover a portion of the costs incurred administering the E3 program. For example, fees may recover the cost of processing registration applications, and costs incurred monitoring compliance with the law.

Recovering a portion of the registration and compliance costs will enable the national regulator to expand the product testing program and increase the number of store inspectors. Cost recovery will also facilitate a faster, more streamlined registration process. These measures will allow the national regulator to deliver a more effective E3 program.

Australian business stakeholders consulted during the development of GEMS legislation gave strong support for an enhanced compliance monitoring regime, backed by registration fees and cost recovery.

Registration f ees b ill separate for constitutional reasons

Legally, fees to recover costs of the compliance monitoring regime may be considered a form of taxation, rather than a fee for services provided. Section 55 of the Australian Constitution requires laws imposing taxation to deal with no other issues. The GEMS registration fees bill therefore separates the power to set fees from all other provisions in the GEMS legislation.

The existence of the separate registration fees bill does not alter the way in which fees are calculated or the way in which fees are charged. It does not alter the proposal to deliver a more effective compliance monitoring regime for all Australians.

The separate registration fees bill simply establishes a clear legislative basis to introduce the enhanced E3 program supported by Australian businesses.

Fees specified by legislative instrument

The GEMS registration fees bill grants the national regulator the power to set fees in legislative instruments. This ensures that fees set by the national regulator will be developed in a transparent manner and tabled in parliament for the public record. Setting fees in legislative instruments allows flexibility to alter fees in the future.

Conclusion

The Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards (Registration Fees) Bill 2012 is integral to the success of the enhanced E3 program. The bill will establish a clear legislative basis to recover a portion of the costs incurred administering the program. This cost recovery will assist the national regulator to deliver an expanded compliance monitoring regime, a measure supported by Australian business stakeholders.

Together with the main GEMS bill, the GEMS registration fees bill will deliver an enhanced and more consistent E3 program. This enhanced program will help to drive even greater energy efficiency for the benefit of Australian households and businesses.

Debate adjourned.