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Energy Bill contradicts legal principles

QLS Legal Policy Special Counsel Kate Brodnik, QLS President Rebecca Fogerty and QLS Industrial Law Committee Chair Giri Sivaraman.

Queensland Law Society (QLS) has called for the redrafting of some provisions in the Energy (Renewable Transformation and Jobs) Bill 2023 to ensure regulation-making is consistent with fundamental legislative principles.

QLS President Rebecca Fogerty, QLS Industrial Law Committee Chair Giri Sivaraman and QLS Legal Policy Special Counsel Kate Brodnik spoke at the public hearing with the State Government’s Transport and Resources Committee at Parliament House today.

Rebecca said QLS supported a legislative framework which set a clear path for a transition to sustainable energy, and assistance for communities during the transition.

However, it held concerns about the wide-ranging, regulation-making powers contained in the legislation, and called for the provisions to be redrafted.

“The Bill authorises the making of regulations that could lead to the amending an Act,” she said.

“This contradicts fundamental legal principles which provide that proposed legislation should have sufficient regard to the institution of Parliament and that an Act should only be amended by another Act.

“The Queensland legislation applying the national electricity laws should only be amended by another Act, not a regulation.

“We cannot support this breach of a fundamental legislative principle in the name of administrative convenience.”

The Bill was introduced in October with an aim to enshrine in law key commitments from the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan, such as to:

  • build a clean and competitive energy system for the economy and industry;
  • deliver affordable energy for households and business and support more rooftop solar and batteries;
  • drive better outcomes for workers and communities as partners in the energy transformation; and
  • create infrastructure frameworks for the Queensland SuperGrid; and
  • establish the governance and advisory functions to support workers and communities.

Rebecca said the Society welcomed the Bill’s requirement for engagement and consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

She said QLS also supported the establishment of a Job Security Guarantee Fund.

“In welcoming the Government’s contributions to this fund, further investment must be proactive and ongoing to ensure the effectiveness of the fund,” she said.

“QLS would welcome further detail in respect of the fund’s operation, including how it can be accessed and the categories of costs it will include.

“Further details about the process to be undertaken by workers and their advisors should also be provided for in legislation.

“QLS calls for the allocation of specific funding for affected workers to access legal advice to assist them in determining whether they meet the eligibility requirements and to navigate the process, if necessary.”

The committee is due to table its report on 1 March.

Read the QLS submission here.

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