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Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Page: 9867

Mr COMBET (CharltonMinister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) (13:29): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

This bill will establish the Clean Energy Regulator—a new statutory authority that will be responsible for administering the government’s carbon price mechanism. It is a key part of the package of bills to establish the scheme.

The regulator will be responsible for auctioning and allocating emissions units, maintaining the national registry of emissions units and ensuring that firms comply with their obligations under the scheme, the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act, the Renewable Energy Target and the Carbon Farming Initiative. This transfer of functions is brought about through the Clean Energy (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2011 that I presented earlier. The government’s intention is to establish a best practice effective, efficient and independent regulator. The regulator will be a body corporate headed by a chair with between two and four other members. Through the chair, it will employ Australian Public Service employees on behalf of the Commonwealth.

It will have a modern set of information-gathering, inspection, and enforcement powers, conferred on it by the Clean Energy Bill 2011.

The regulator will be at arm’s length from government. As with other independent regulators, the minister will only be able to provide directions on general matters and there are limited grounds on which a member of the regulator may be removed from office.

The regulator will also be required to produce three-yearly corporate plans and annual reports, and to comply with the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997.

The Clean Energy Regulator will have a suitable range of powers to ensure that scheme obligations are complied with. The government is determined that deliberate breaches and fraud are properly and effectively dealt with and makes no apology for giving appropriate powers to the regulator to see that this happens. These powers, far from being excessive, are very similar to those given to other business regulatory agencies.

The regulator will also have an important role in advising and assisting persons in relation to their obligations under the scheme—something that is formally reflected in the regulator’s functions.

The Clean Energy Regulator will be expected to treat its stakeholders fairly and consistently. It will be expected to use its resources effectively and efficiently. It will have a commitment to continuous improvement in the quality and reliability of its services. It will act appropriately to pursue non-compliance. It will be expected to develop wide-ranging outreach and information programs to help all the organisations with which it deals to comply with their responsibilities. While it acts independently, it does so in a transparent and fully accountable way. The Clean Energy Regulator will be an example of best practice public administration.

I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.