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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 17 February 2015) . . Page.. 382 ..


MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (11.58): Today the Greens will be supporting the passing of the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (ACT) Bill that seeks to update the ACT water efficiency scheme by aligning ACT law with the most recent version of the commonwealth law.

The water efficiency labelling scheme is a national scheme that requires particular products to be registered and labelled so that consumers are able to determine the water efficiency standard at the point of sale. The WELS scheme sets particular standards for products such as showers, taps, washing machines and dishwashers, and then rates products against the standards.

The scheme being national means that there is a consistent language of water efficiency across the country, something that is useful and efficient for the operation of the scheme. Much like other national standard systems, such as the national Building Code, there is a significant range of standards and a massive range of products that get classified—nearly 11,100 currently registered tap products, nearly 5,000 shower products and 400 washing machines. The scheme also sets requirements for some products—namely, toilets and washing machines—making it illegal to supply products that do not meet the minimum standards.

The WELS scheme was started in 2005 as a demand management strategy. Indications from a study completed in 2008 are that projections of saving are even more than was originally modelled at the commencement of the scheme. From the WELS website it is estimated that by 2021 using water efficiency appliances will help to reduce domestic water use by more than 100,000 megalitres each year; save more than 800,000 megalitres, which is more water than in Sydney Harbour; and reduce total greenhouse gas output by 400,000 tonnes each year, equivalent to taking 90,000 cars off the road each year.

Compliance and enforcement of the WELS scheme is managed by the commonwealth. Compliance has primarily focused on educating industry about meeting obligations under the act. However, it will now shift direction as inspectors are assessing compliance breaches and taking appropriate action.

The ACT water efficiency act was passed in 2005, but this bill repeals the act and starts afresh in mirroring the commonwealth act, which was significantly updated in 2012. The measures in this bill effectively adopt for the territory the uniform national approach to water efficiency. More than its predecessor, the new act will, in essence, mostly refer the reader to the commonwealth legislation. Indeed, the objects of the act, rather than being about water efficiency or providing information on water efficiency, are literally to implement the uniform approach to water efficiency labelling and standards.

The terms used in this act will have the same meaning as in the commonwealth act. Clause 7 of this bill talks about the reference to the commonwealth act because, clearly, should the commonwealth act change, then the rules in the ACT will also change; so effectively the governance of this area rests with the commonwealth. The commonwealth regulator will have the same functions under the provisions as they have under the commonwealth. However, this bill does provide for the territory to modify the commonwealth law through regulations made under the act.


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