Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (24 March) . . Page.. 735 ..
Debate resumed from 10 March 1999, on motion by Ms Tucker:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (11.48): Mr Speaker, the Energy Efficiency Ratings (Sale of Premises) Act commences on 31 March 1999, next week. The Government generally supports the amendments brought forward by Ms Tucker as they clarify some operational ambiguities that are in the Act. I think many members would have been approached by different groups that wanted clarification on some points. In particular, the new definition of "premises" makes it explicit that the Act only applies to residences and not commercial or industrial buildings. Exemptions are supported for mobile homes, for caravans, aged care providers, and for buildings which are to be demolished.
Whilst the Government supports in principle that the Act should not apply to buildings which are to be demolished, reference to section 46 of the Building Act 1972 is proposed regarding demolitions or dwellings which are to be removed from sites, and I will move an amendment to that effect at a later stage. This is for consistency. The reference makes it quite clear that exemptions on the ground of demolition or removal of a building require proof that an approval to demolish or to remove the structure has been granted and therefore an exemption can be given.
Mr Speaker, the Government will also be moving an amendment to the Act to remove those provisions that effectively rescind a contract in the absence of an energy rating and instead will include a penalty of 0.5 per cent of the value of the sale. This is an issue that I think most members would be aware of. What is the penalty for not having had the energy efficiency rating done? Currently the penalty is to stop the contract or to rescind the contract. We have continued to consult the community on this, and there are concerns that the penalty is just way over the top; that it is draconian. It certainly does not fit the intention. There are unintended consequences there, where perhaps one sale depends on another sale in a chain of sales, which is not uncommon in this industry. We do not believe that individuals should be left in dire straits when faced with, say, bridging finance or other options, or the purchase of a house that they do not need when they have not sold their first one.
So this amendment, after much community consultation, has been put forward. I know that the Law Society was interested in this form of amendment. The Government believes that this will have the effect of removing what really is a draconian punishment from the Act and replacing it with a more appropriate penalty for not having had the energy efficiency rating done. Apart from that, we will support the amendments.
MR CORBELL(11.51): Mr Speaker, the Labor Opposition will be supporting this Bill. We believe that it addresses a range of obvious deficiencies in the original Act and we are happy to lend our support to the range of issues that it addresses. Obviously there is a very important measure to be addressed in relation to what sorts of premises are