Page 741 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 8 April 2014

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The bill contains standard provisions for search warrants to ensure that critical information or objects can be accessed. Search warrants may only be issued if strict conditions are met and the exercise of powers under the warrant must be in accordance with the warrant. This ensures that officers only remove items that are mentioned in the warrant and provide appropriate information to occupiers before searching the premises.

The current licensing act requires the Construction Occupations Registrar to make information about licences available to the public. However, it does not provide details about which information should be made available and in what form. This bill includes provisions to set up a public register which includes information about licensees which is of most use to the public.

Whilst the opposition is not opposed to the concept of a public register, we are very concerned about the inclusion of disciplinary actions which have not yet been finalised. In effect, what this bill will facilitate, indeed encourages, is the publishing of information on a website about an ACAT issue which may be untrue and unfounded. This is not fair to the industry and it is certainly not fair for the licensees concerned.

It is unknown what impact the new public register will have on a consumer’s choice of licensee. If the government intentions do indeed eventuate, the public register will be a valuable source of information where Canberrans can check up on the track record of a licensee. Therefore, it is vital that the information is accurate and evidence based. The sheer fact that the registrar is taking a licensee to ACAT, before any finding of guilt, should be published on a register and potentially tarnish a licensee’s reputation is a real concern. The opposition cannot and will not support this.

The bill amends the Electricity Safety Act with new provisions that allow regulations to be made for energy efficiency, energy conservation and environmental safety standards for electrical appliances. The bill also tidies up the act by removing the unused product approval mechanism from the current legislation. The amendments in the bill replace references to the Planning and Land Authority with references to the Construction Occupations Registrar to reflect the registrar’s authority as granted under this act.

The bill amends the Energy Efficiency (Cost of Living) Improvement Act to clarify what activities are included or excluded from an energy savings calculation. The bill also allows the result to be recalculated up to five years after the end of the compliance period to which it relates if the calculation is based on incorrect information or a non-compliance activity.

Finally, the bill includes provisions that allow for information sharing about electricity retailers to ensure compliance. The administrator is also given authority to issue rectification orders or take other actions in cases where a retailer has contravened the code of practice.

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