Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 4 Hansard (4 April) . . Page.. 1421 ..
to emergency services is crucial to the success of any such scheme, and I know these measures are included in the legislation before the Assembly today.
This bill provides the minister with the power to declare that fuel restrictions are in place by a notifiable instrument. Whilst this Assembly should always be wary of providing the executive with excessive powers, it is necessary in this case for the minister to be able to act quickly to implement restrictions in the event of a fuel shortage. The opposition also supports introducing consistent legislative frameworks when responding to other energy shortages that may arise, be it electricity, gas or other.
The ability to extend restrictions if required is also important, and this bill allows for extensions if declared by the minister within two months of the initial three-month maximum period. Any challenge to the decision of the minister must be brought within 30 days of announcement. Whilst this is somewhat restrictive, it is necessary to ensure court proceedings do not limit the ability of the territory to act quickly to preserve limited fuel stocks. However, as the territory lacks experience with hands-on fuel shortages, there may be a need to review this legislation should inadequacies be found during such a future event.
I note that the JACS committee, through its legislative scrutiny role, raised a number of concerns about potential conflicts with the Human Rights Act. Clause 10 of the bill requires a fuel retailer to provide the director-general with their name, contact details and business locations. I acknowledge that the committee indicated this may contravene a right to privacy. The opposition is, however, satisfied that this information will be secure, as it will be held under the protections of the Information Privacy Act 2014. It is also worth noting that this information is most likely already held by the ACT revenue office or another government directorate.
The bill also provides inspectors with powers to seize items without the supervision of a court process. I acknowledge the committee's concern that this may contravene the right to a fair trial. Safeguards are provided to limit this power, such as the provision of a receipt for any confiscated goods, as well as the right to view the item at any time. It is also worth noting that any confiscated item must be provided to its owner within 90 days unless an offence is proved and a court order issued to forfeit the item. The opposition believes these safeguards are reasonable.
Another area worth highlighting in the legislation is the presence of part 10 of the bill, relating to transitional regulations. Whilst I understand that the purpose of this is to allow a form of flexibility to make the changes that may be required during the transition of responsibilities that come with the implementation of this legislation, the opposition will be monitoring these closely to ensure that they do not contravene the purposes of the act. The opposition notes that other jurisdictions have or are in the process of implementing similar legislation in their jurisdictions. We believe a national approach to a fuel shortage event is important and worth pursuing. As such, the opposition will support the legislation.
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong—Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Minister for Corrections and Justice Health, Minister for Justice, Consumer Affairs