House debates

Monday, 11 September 2023


Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards Amendment (Administrative Changes) Bill 2023; Second Reading

12:41 pm

Photo of Chris BowenChris Bowen (McMahon, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | Hansard source

I present the explanatory memorandum and the addendum to the explanatory memorandum to this bill, and I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards Amendment (Administrative Changes) Bill 2023 (the bill) would amend the Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards Act 2012, otherwise knowns as the GEMS Act.

The GEMS Act has been in effect for more than 10 years now. Its principal purpose is to provide a streamlined nationally consistent approach to energy efficiency while effectively reducing energy use, power bills and greenhouse gas emissions.

Over the life of the GEMS scheme, it has produced significant economic benefits.

At a national level, between 2012 and 2021, GEMS initiatives are estimated to have reduced emissions by between 40 and 60 mega tonnes of CO2 and to have saved households and businesses between $11.8 billion and $17.8 billion in energy costs.

Further to this, in 2021-22 labelling and standards are estimated to have saved Australian households and businesses between $1.3 and $2 billion in avoided energy costs. These were estimated to deliver emissions savings of between 4.1 and 6.3 million tonnes in 2021-22—this is equivalent to about a quarter of South Australia's annual net emissions.

The GEMS scheme also has direct benefits at the consumer level. In 2019, the Independent review of the GEMS Act found that regulations under the GEMS scheme save the average Australian household between $140 and $220 on their electricity bill each year. We only expect this to get better as we look to expand the number and type of products regulated under the GEMS Act and see consumers looking to purchase higher energy-efficient products to save even more.

GEMS helps all of us make informed choices, so we can use more energy efficient appliances in our homes and our businesses, and better equipment in our industries.

As we consider our energy transition, it is time to update the GEMS Act, and modernise it to make sure it fits in with today's technologies, appliances and energy demands.

To move forward, we need to expand the GEMS Act to gather more information, set more minimum performance standards on a broader range of appliances and products to meet our climate and energy needs into the future. We need to build in flexibility into the GEMS Act to be ready for the future, and to support better choices.

This bill introduces a first phase of GEMS Act amendments, targeted to streamline the implementation of the GEMS scheme, and to reduce unnecessary burdens on our regulated community.

GEMS is one tool of many in the pursuit of finding smart ways to manage demand to not just use less electricity but to use it when it's cheapest and cleanest.

Modernising and updating the GEMS Act would support the National Energy Transformation Partnership—an agreed national plan between the states, territories, and the Commonwealth to enable Australia's massive energy transformation, including by helping to make homes and appliances more energy efficient.

It would be a tool to help deliver the National Energy Performance Strategy, otherwise known as the NEPS.The NEPS will provide a framework and supporting policies through which the government provides clear guidance on longer term direction for energy performance. The NEPS will build on existing energy efficiency policies in place to improve energy affordability, such as through the Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings, and the GEMS Act.

These initiatives will be integral to reaching our emissions reduction targets.

The amendments in this bill, while minor, support the achievement of the objects of the GEMS Act by giving flexibility to help more energy-efficient products be available in the Australian market.

It's a start to improving and modernising the GEMS Act as recommended in the Independent review of the GEMS Act released in 2019.

The review found that while the GEMS Act is achieving its purpose, reform is required to adapt to changing market conditions and requirements. This bill will introduce changes to build on the already significant outcomes of this successful program.

Many of the changes in this tranche have already been considered by the states and territories and stakeholders.

Under the intergovernmental agreement for the GEMS scheme, the ministerial council is responsible for approving proposed amendments to GEMS legislation. State, territory and industry stakeholders alike support this bill. The amendments are seen as necessary and not controversial.

The International Energy Agency describes energy efficiency as the 'first fuel', noting that it 'provides some of the quickest and most cost-effective CO2 mitigation options while lowering energy bills and strengthening energy security'.

Demand-side measures, including improving the energy efficiency of appliances and equipment supplied in Australia, can support Australia's net zero target.

The GEMS Act regulates appliance energy efficiency to deliver significant savings and abatement and we want to continue this and build on the excellent outcomes GEMS has already delivered.

If passed, this bill will improve the GEMS Act, enabling the changes needed for today's energy operating environment, reducing the burden on business and industry, and paving the way to get more energy-efficient products into the Australian market.

I commend the bill to the House.


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