House debates

Wednesday, 28 October 2020


Treasury Laws Amendment (2020 Measures No. 4) Bill 2020; Second Reading

9:46 am

Photo of Michael SukkarMichael Sukkar (Deakin, Liberal Party, Assistant Treasurer) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

This bill implements a number of streamlining and integrity measures.

Schedule 1 to the bill will amend the income tax law to ensure that no tax is payable on refunds of large-scale generation certificate shortfall charges.

This measure will apply to refunds paid since 1 January 2019.

Under the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000, energy retailers and other liable entities must surrender large-scale generation certificates or pay a shortfall charge. This shortfall charge can be refunded where the outstanding certificates are surrendered within the allowable refund period.

This measure will therefore clarify the operation of the income tax law for energy providers and will ensure that the market for large-scale generation certificates works as intended, meeting targets for clean energy while minimising costs for consumers.

Schedule 2 to the bill amends the Treasury Laws Amendment (Putting Consumers First—Establishment of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority) Actto facilitate the closure of the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal and any transitional arrangements associated with AFCA replacing the SCT.

The AFCA Act will be amended to allow the transfer of SCT records and documents to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission for ongoing records management, and will also allow the Federal Court to remit appealed cases back to AFCA, where previously these had been remitted to the SCT.

Schedule 2 also introduces a rule-making power to the AFCA Act, to allow the minister to prescribe matters of a transitional nature that may be required to facilitate the closure of the SCT.

Through this measure, the government is delivering on our promise to wind up the SCT at the conclusion of its work, allowing all superannuation related complaints to be now dealt with by AFCA.

Schedule 3 will enable the government to establish a more effective enforcement regime to encourage greater compliance with the franchising code by amending the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 to increase the maximum civil pecuniary penalty available for a breach of an industry code from 300 to 600 penalty units, and increasing the civil pecuniary penalties for breaches of the franchising code accordingly.

Appropriate penalties in the franchising code are necessary to provide a strong deterrent against breaches of the code across the franchising sector, particularly by large multinational franchisors.

Schedule 4 to the bill will extend the operation of a temporary mechanism put in place during the coronavirus pandemic, which allows arrangements for complying with information and documentary requirements to be altered under Commonwealth legislation, including requirements to give information in writing and to produce, witness and sign documents. The temporary mechanism responds to the ongoing challenges posed by social distancing measures and restrictions on movement and gathering in Australia and overseas that have been introduced to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

In recognition of the importance of continued business transactions and government service delivery during this time, this measure provides that a responsible minister may continue to determine that provisions in Commonwealth legislation containing particular information or documentary requirements (i) can be varied, (ii) do not apply, or (iii) prescribe that another provision specified in the determination applies, for a specified period of time. A responsible minister must not exercise the power unless they are satisfied that the determination is in response to circumstances relating to coronavirus. The mechanism is temporary and will be repealed at the end of 31 March 2021 or a later date determined by the Attorney-General should that become necessary due to continuing challenges posed by the pandemic. Any determination made under the mechanism will cease to operate when the temporary mechanism is repealed.

Debate adjourned.