Page 5071 - Week 13 - Thursday, 29 November 2018

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MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong—Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Minister for Corrections and Justice Health, Minister for Justice, Consumer Affairs and Road Safety and Minister for Mental Health) (11.32): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am pleased to table the Fuels Rationing Bill 2018 today. Managing energy supply is critical to the functioning of a modern economy. The integrated nature of Australia’s energy markets and supply chains means that a coordinated response by commonwealth, state and territory governments to energy emergencies is required to minimise the severity and duration of such events. As such, an intergovernmental agreement in relation to a national liquid fuel emergency is in place. This agreement, to which the ACT government is a signatory, was designed to ensure a harmonised response to a liquid fuel emergency, recognising that such emergencies invariably occur across geographic boundaries.

However, a review into liquid fuels management identified that the existing ACT legislation for the management of liquid fuel emergencies, the Fuels Control Act 1979 and the Emergencies Act 2004, does not allow for fuel rationing methods consistent with the intergovernmental agreement. The Fuels Control Act does not grant the required emergency powers to manage a liquid fuels emergency in an efficient and equitable manner, and it is inconsistent with emergency management processes as established under the Emergencies Act.

Additionally, the Emergencies Act has powers to manage liquid fuels as a health, safety and fire hazard. However, it does not provide appropriate powers to manage the long-term economic rationing of fuels. It is for these reasons that cabinet agreed to the drafting of the Fuels Rationing Bill 2018. The bill provides the minister with powers to approve a fuels rationing scheme through a disallowable instrument and to declare that a stage of an approved fuels rationing scheme is in place through a notifiable instrument.

Further, the bill provides powers to inspectors to ensure that fuel restrictions are complied with. This framework is similar to that of the established Utilities (Electricity Restrictions) Regulation 2004, which is subordinate to the Utilities Act 2000 and allows a framework for electricity rationing in the event of an electricity shortage. This is an important measure to strengthen the resilience of the territory and the nation, as the bill improves the ability of the territory to manage and respond to a potential liquid fuel shortage.

I would like to take this opportunity to note that it is unlikely that the powers provided by the bill will need to be enforced. Fuel supply shortfalls are very rare events which have not occurred in decades and are not anticipated. However, it is important that we have this legislation in place to allow best practice emergency response procedures to be implemented should the need arise. The bill also allows for services which are essential to the operation of the city to continue to function smoothly to protect the wellbeing of all members of our community in the event of a fuel shortage.

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