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Save Our Solar (Solar Rebate Protection) Bill 2008

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2008

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

SAVE OUR SOLAR (SOLAR REBATE PROTECTION) BILL 2008

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

(Circulated by the Hon Greg Hunt MP,

Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Urban Water
)

 

SAVE OUR SOLAR (SOLAR REBATE PROTECTION) BILL 2008

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

GENERAL OUTLINE

The Solar Homes and Communities Plan provides cash rebates from the Commonwealth Government for the installation of solar photovoltaic systems on homes and community use buildings. The maxiumum rebate for private homes is $8,000. The previous Coalition Government introduced a n on - means - tested rebate for solar (photovoltaic) systems of $8,000 per household.  As a consequence, demand tripled.  This program was not means - tested as it was an environmental measure.  Prior to Budget night 2008, there was all-party support for this measure.

In the 2008-09 Budget, the Rudd Labor Government introduced a means - test for eligibility to receive rebates. From 14 May 2008, only households with a combined annual taxable income of less than $100,000 are eligible. The introduction of a means-tested eligibility threshold of $100,000 brought the solar photovoltaic systems rebate into line with the existing eligibility threshold for the Commonwealth’s Solar Hot Water Rebate. has had a devastating effect on the solar industry in Australia.

 

The rebate program, including the means-tested eligibility threshold and other guidelines, under the Solar Homes and Communities Plan, has no direct legislative basis. It is administered under Departmental guidelines. The effect of the Save or Solar (Solar Rebate Protection) Bill 2008 is to require the responsible Minister (currently the Minister for Environment, Heritage and the Arts) to determine new guidelines for the operation of the Solar Homes and Communities Plan, and that this be done via a legislative instrument under the Legislative Instruments Act 2003 . This would mean that the guidelines would be subject to Parliamentary scrutiny and potential disallowance by either House of Parliament under section 42 of the Legislative Instruments Act 2003.

FINANCIAL IMPACT

The Bill would have no direct financial impact. The Solar Homes and Communities Plan is an existing Commonwealth program. If either House were to subsequently exercise a disallowance there could at that point be a financial impact , but the Bill itself has no direct financial impact . .

NOTES ON CLAUSES

Clause 1 - Short title

This clause provides for the short title of the Act.

Clause 2 - Commencement

The Act would commence on the day on which it receives the Royal Assent.

Clause 3 - Objects of the Act

The broad objective of the Act is to improve the operation of the Solar Homes and Communities Plan by establising a legislative basis for, and thus increased Parlaimentary scrutiny of, the Plan.

Clause 4 - Interpretation

This defines certain key terms and phrases contained in the Act.

Clause 5 - Guidelines for the scheme

This requires the responsible Minister to determine new written guidelines for the operation of the Solar Homes and Communities Plan. The guidelines must contain eligibility requirements for the payment of rebates and also the types of solar systems to which the Plan applies. The Minister’s determination is a legislative instrument under the Legislative Instruments Act 2003 .

Clause 6 - Responsibility of the Minister

This provides that the Minister has general responsibility for the operation of the Plan, including the guidelines referred to in clause 5. In the event the guidelines are disallowed by Parliament under section 42 of the Legislative Instruments Act 2003, the Minister must determine replacement guidelines so the Plan can continue operating.

Note that a new determination would be subject to section 48 of the Legislative Instruments Act 2003. To paraphrase section 48, where an  instrument or a provision of an instrument, (‘the first instrument’) has been disallowed by either House of Parliament, a replacement instrument or provision of an instrument, that is subtantially the same as the first instrument, cannot be made within six months of the disallowance of the first instrument unless the relevant House consents to the remaking.

Clause 7 - Responsibility of the Secretary

This provides that the Departmental Secretary has general responsibility for the administration of the Plan.

Clause 8 - Payments

This prohibits any payment in relation to installation of a solar system unless all requirements of the clause 5 guidelines have been satisfied.

Clause 9 - Principles of Administration     

This requires the Secretary to have regard to certain broad principles in administering the Plan.

Clause 10 - Regulations

This is a standard regulation-making power for the carrying out of, or giving effect to, the Act.