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Unintended consequences found in insufficiently examined National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Bill, says Labor Senator

Posted by gmarkets on 8 October, 2007

Overall there had not been appropriate timeframes for analysis of the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Bill 2007 by those it would affect and those charged with bringing it into law, said South Australia’s Senator Dana Wortley in the Commonwealth Senate on 20 September 2007.Unintended consequences found: The Bill was a substantial document of over 50 pages, but was introduced into parliament at short notice at the end of the last sitting week in August, Wortley said. “It’s no surprise, considering this, that potential ‘unintended consequences’ of the Bill have been identified,” she said. These included increasing the compliance burden on industry, for example the legal costs likely to be incurred as stakeholders grapple with the ambiguities arising from the structure of the Bill.

Workable climate change strategy urgently needed: There also might still be a risk the Bill could undermine current and future state-based programs which had been designed to tackle the challenge presented by climate change, Wortley said. However, despite its flaws Labor supported the Bill because it believed in the general aim of the legislation. The country urgently needed a workable climate change strategy. Labor was committed to the implementation of an emissions trading scheme. Submissions to the Standing Committee on Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts were supportive of the Bill’s intent.

Lack of consultation: However, the Committee heard that the Commonwealth Greenhouse Reporting Bill was put together without due consultation over July and August this year. The Department even admitted it had not consulted with any of the stakeholders during the drafting of the Bill, said Wortley. Whilst it did cite previous years’ discussions with various parties on the subject and referred to previous COAG outcomes and agreements during the hearing,edthe Bill itself fails to reflect accurately the outcome of these discussions, Wortley said. The inquiry heard that its introduction would … (produce) a fractured system that might not include all major emitters and therefore might oblige companies to seek judicial review. “Other unintended results likely would include undermining state laws on climate change that are working; and cutting across other state laws that are not even connected to greenhouse emissions issues. Major emitters testified that the Bill was not consistent with previous positions or agreements made between the states and the Howard Government at COAG,” Wortley said.

Reference: Dana Wortley, Senator for South Australia, Australia Labor Party, Senate Hansard, Commonwealth of Australia, 20 September 2007.

Erisk Net, 7/10/2007

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