What does the bill do?
The bill was put through parliament so quickly that the parliamentary library has not had time to summarise what it does. The explanatory memorandum - which is prepared by the Government, who introduced the bill - describes it like this:
Schedule 1 to the Bill inserts Part IVBB into the CCA [Competition and Consumer Act 2010] to create an overarching framework to enable the Government to regulate the gas market. Two kinds of legislative instruments will underpin the new framework; gas market codes and gas market emergency price orders. These instruments are collectively referred to as gas market instruments.
First, the Governor-General may, through regulations, make gas market codes. Gas market codes may prescribe a broad range of matters relating to the supply and acquisition of gas commodities, including:
regulating dealings between persons who supply or acquire a gas commodity, including negotiations between them; and
dealing with and resolving disputes or complaints between persons who supply or acquire a gas commodity.
Second, the Minister may make gas market emergency price orders regulating the terms on which gas commodities are supplied or acquired, specifically including price. A gas market emergency price order is designed to provide short-term relief from the current energy crisis. The Minister’s power to make gas market emergency price orders sunsets 12 months after the commencement of any order, or 12 months after commencement of the enabling provision in Schedule 1 to the Bill if no order is made. The Minister must consult the ACCC [Australian Competition and Consumer Commission] prior to making a gas market emergency price order, and an order is automatically repealed after 12 months. Gas market emergency price orders provide the basis for emergency price regulation of gas, primarily to reduce domestic prices and address the current energy crisis.
Schedule 1 to the Bill includes a range of mechanisms that are aimed at detecting, deterring and addressing non-compliance with Part IVBB and gas market instruments. The ACCC has the power to require the production of certain information and documents, investigate suspected non-compliance and utilise a range of sanctions that are appropriate and proportionate to the non-compliance.
The consequences of contravening relevant provisions of Part IVBB or a gas market instrument include civil penalties, infringement notices, warning notices and orders under Part VI.
Schedule 1 to the Bill prohibits avoidance schemes that are designed to avoid the application of a civil penalty provision of a gas market instrument.
Date and time: 4:51 PM on 2022-12-15
Senator Pocock's vote: Aye
Total number of "aye" votes: 28
Total number of "no" votes: 22
Total number of abstentions: 26
Related bill: Treasury Laws Amendment (Energy Price Relief Plan) Bill 2022
Adapted from information made available by theyvoteforyou.org.au