Page 383 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 17 February 2015

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Part 4 of the bill outlines issues in regard to offences. An offence under this act will be an offence against the commonwealth as if the law were a commonwealth law and is not to be taken as an offence against the territory. Part 5 outlines that the administrative laws will also apply as laws of the commonwealth and not the territory and confers functions on commonwealth offices and authorities. Part 6 outlines that fees and penalties payable under the act are payable to the commonwealth and also gives the regulation-making power to the executive. The WELS scheme plays an important role in ensuring better demand management in the ACT, and the Greens will be supporting the bill today.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Capital Metro) (12.02), in reply: I thank members for their support of this bill today. The bill reforms the existing ACT water efficiency labelling and standards scheme that was enacted in 2005. The basic objects of this legislation have not changed and they are still very important for us to use water efficiently. The objects are to conserve water supplies by reducing consumption, provide information for purchasers of water use and water saving products, such as washing machines and dishwashers, and promote the adoption of efficient and effective water use and water saving technologies.

The legislation is essentially template legislation applied across all Australian jurisdictions. This bill, therefore, in essence adopts the latest commonwealth law here in the ACT. The commonwealth administers the water efficiency labelling and standards scheme throughout Australia through a water efficiency labelling and standards scheme regulator that deals with product registration, a labelling system and an enforcement system. Since 2005, the commonwealth has had to amend the scheme from time to time and incorporate a number of regulatory instruments for its administration. The range and number of products has expanded and civil penalties have been added for offences of providing misleading information or failing to provide information. By adopting the commonwealth law as ACT law, the legislation will remain current in the ACT.

It is not a controversial bill, Madam Speaker, but it makes for sound and improved legislative and administrative practice, as well as updating the current law. Reviews of the WELS scheme have indicated that the scheme is successful and is achieving significant water savings across the nation. The bill is similar to laws that have been enacted by a number of states and also the Northern Territory in the last 18 months.

There are no human rights issues in regard to this bill, but I point out that the ACT bill differs from the current commonwealth law in one respect: the criminal penalty imposed for three offences—namely, subsection 51(3), subsection 61(3) and subsections 62(3) and (4) of the commonwealth legislation. The ACT bill will retain, from the current legislation, a monetary penalty of 60 penalty units instead of the penalty of six months imprisonment that applies in the commonwealth legislation if it is found that a person fails to provide information to a water efficiency labelling scheme inspector or fails to answer a question of a WELS inspector.

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