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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 8 June 2017) . . Page.. 2104 ..

The minister and indeed the briefing government officials state that there is a concern about the potential for double counting in respect of obligations and/or incentives under different energy efficiency improvement schemes. Whilst there seems to be no evidence about any incidents of retailers seeking to take advantage of this seeming loophole to try to get double the subsidies or incentives, as government officials indicated, the lack of capacity of administrators to share compliance information means that these statistics, if they exist, are not readily available for interrogation.

By changing the prescriptive and exclusive list of the eligible activities under the scheme to a broader inclusion of activities pursuant to any energy efficiency improvement or greenhouse gas abatement laws, activities such as the commonwealth carbon farming initiative, which has not been adopted under the scheme, are captured for the purposes of sharing compliance information, whether to ensure no double counting or otherwise.

The scrutiny of bills committee, in reviewing this legislation, looked into the human rights issues implicit in this clause, given the potential to impact on privacy, but have not required a response from the minister.

The second policy amendment in clause 15 seeks to amend section 203(2) of the Nature Conservation Act and is intended to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of reporting on Ramsar wetland management plans. Ramsar wetlands are those regarded as having international significance and are listed under the Ramsar convention. The ACT has one site listed under the Ramsar convention, the Ginini Flats wetland.

The Nature Conservation Act 2014 requires the conservator to report to the minister every five years under the Ramsar wetlands management plan. The bill proposes to change the reporting period from every five years to every seven years. The intention of this amendment is to align the ACT with the commonwealth’s seven-year reporting cycle. It is designed to make reporting more efficient and to facilitate better quality reporting.

In the briefing I received on this bill, I posed a number of questions to the directorate in respect of this time line. Given that the Nature Conservation Act came into existence in 2014, the first reporting date under the current act would have been 2019. The effect of this amendment would mean that the reporting date may move to 2021, subject to when the seven-year commonwealth cycle started.

At the time of the briefing ACT government officials were not able to state when the next reporting date for commonwealth Ramsar wetlands is, or what other jurisdictions do, and/or had in place, to create synergies in their reporting dates. However, the latest report has now been tabled as a disallowable instrument on 12 May. The Ginini Flats wetland complex management plan is a detailed document that covers a range of topics, providing guidelines for sound management of the area. It refers to such things as fire, visitors, invasive species management and steps needed to protect and rehabilitate the peatland.

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