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Thursday, 22 October 2009
Page: 10678

Mr COMBET (Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science and Minister Assisting the Minister for Climate Change) (9:28 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

This bill would establish the Australian Climate Change Regulatory Authority—a new statutory authority that would be responsible for administering the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

It is one of a package of bills to establish the scheme.

The authority will be responsible for auctioning and allocating emissions units, maintaining a national registry of emissions units and ensuring that firms comply with their obligations under the scheme.

The government’s intention is to establish an effective, efficient and independent regulator.

The authority will be a body corporate headed by a chair and 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 Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill 2009.

The authority 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 authority may be removed from office.

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

The authority will take over the functions of the existing Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator and the Greenhouse and Energy Data Officer, so that a single regulatory body will have overall responsibility for administration of climate change laws. This transfer of functions is to be effected through the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2009.

While it will have strong powers to ensure that the scheme obligations are complied with, the authority 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 authority’s functions.

I commend the bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Coulton) adjourned.