Bills Digest no. 112 2009–10
Australian Centre for Renewable Energy Bill
This Digest was prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as
introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments. This Digest
does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be
consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the
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Australian Centre for Renewable Energy Bill
Date introduced: 18 November 2009
Portfolio: Resources, Energy and Tourism
Commencement: Royal Assent
relevant links to the Bill, Explanatory Memorandum and second
reading speech can be accessed via BillsNet, which is at http://www.aph.gov.au/bills/.
When Bills have been passed they can be found at ComLaw, which is
establish the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy (ACRE) Board
and the position of Chief Executive Officer. It also provides for
the appointment of members, their remuneration and terms of
appointment. ACRE will be a new body under the Minister for
Energy and Tourism.
The Clean Energy Initiative (CEI) represents part of the
government’s efforts in providing a comprehensive response to
the challenge of reducing greenhouse gases.
The government’s efforts to develop these
new low emissions energy technologies are directed towards a few
broad areas: energy efficiency, low-emissions coal and renewable
The aim of the CEI is to ‘promote the development,
commercialisation and deployment of renewable energy and enabling
ACRE is a component of the
Government’s $4.5 billion CEI which was announced in the May
2009 budget and is designed to dovetail with the Carbon Pollution
Reduction Scheme (CPRS) and expanded renewable energy target (RET).
The RET is expected to provide 20 per cent renewable energy
generation by 2020. While the expanded RET is meant to act as an
incentive to hasten the uptake of renewable energy sources, the
development of the industry itself remains hamstrung by commercial
and technical issues. Developing renewable energy and
enabling technology to a stage where they promise to be competitive
with existing energy technologies, will require financial support
to assist with the development and commercialisation of emerging
renewable and enabling energy technologies. As the national
renewable energy technology body, ACRE’s role will be to
provide this necessary injection of funding for such activities to
happen in a coordinated and coherent manner.  The role of the ACRE’s Board in
facilitating these outcomes is outlined in Part 2, Division 1,
clause 5 of the Bill.
The Explanatory Memorandum states that the Bill will have no
Clause 5 provides that the functions of the
(1) to provide advice to
the Minister in relation to energy technologies, which
includes advice in relation to the following:
- strategies to fund and promote the
development, commercialisation and use of renewable energy
- the funding of renewable energy technology
projects and measures
- the management of renewable energy
- improving existing program delivery
- the provision of venture capital funding
- priority areas for government support
- establishing links with state and territory
government agencies and the private sector with a view to
developing strategies for stimulating investment in renewable
energy technologies, and
(2) to assess
renewable energy technology projects and measures so to be able to
provide advice on the funding of renewable energy technology
projects and measures, and
(3) any other
functions that the Minister, by writing, directs the Board to
perform. Such a direction is not however, a legislative
Clause 6 clarifies and circumscribes the power
of the Minister to give directions to the Board. The directions
must only be a general nature and cannot relate to the content of
any advice that may be given by the Board, so as to maintain the
independence and integrity of the advice of the Board. The Board
must comply with a direction given by the Minister.
Clause 7 provides that the Board shall be
composed of the Chair, up to 6 appointed members and the CEO.
Clause 8 provides that members of the Board
(other than the CEO) are to be appointed by the Minister in writing
and on a part-time basis, and for a period that does not exceed 2
years (clause 9). In deciding these
appointments, the criteria that must inform the Minister’s
- that the Minister is satisfied that each member has knowledge
of, or experience in, a field relevant to the Board’s
- to the extent possible, that the members of the Board have,
between them, experience in the following areas:
- finance, economics, law and project
- the energy industry and energy markets
- technical development, science or
- administration and program management.
Clause 10 provides that the Minister may
appoint a member to act as the Chair in the event of the Chair
becoming unavailable. This is to ensure that the functions of
the Board are not held up in the Chair’s absence.
In the event of a temporary or permanent vacancy, the Minister
may appoint a person to act as an appointed member.
Clause 11 provides that the
remuneration and allowances of an appointed member
is to be determined by the Remuneration Tribunal. Where no such
determination is in operation, then the remuneration of the member
is to be that prescribed by the regulations.
Clause 12 outlines the leave of absence
provisions for the Chair and members of the Board.
Clause 13 deals with the disclosure of
the interests of a member. A member must give written
notice to the Minister of all interests, pecuniary or otherwise,
that the member has or acquires and that conflict or could conflict
with the proper performance of the member’s functions.
14 provides that a member who has a member who has an
interest, pecuniary or otherwise, in a matter being considered or
about to be considered by the Board must disclose the nature of the
interest to a meeting of the Board.
must be made as soon as possible after the relevant facts have come
to the member’s knowledge and must be recorded in the minutes
of the meeting of the Board.
the Board otherwise determines, the member:
- must not be present during any deliberation by the Board on the
- must not take part in any decision of the Board with respect to
17 deals with the termination of
appointment of a Board member. The Minister may terminate
an appointment of a member for misbehaviour or physical or mental
incapacity. And the Minister may also terminate an appointment in
- the member becomes bankrupt; or applies to take the benefit of
any law for the relief of bankrupt or insolvent debtors; or makes
an assignment of their remuneration for the benefit of his or her
- the member is absent (except for leave of absence) from 3
consecutive meetings of the Board, or
- the member fails, without reasonable excuse, to disclose
interests in compliance with section 13 or 14.
- the member’s performance has been unsatisfactory for a
significant period of time.
It is arguable
that rather than requiring unsatisfactory performance for a
significant period of time, before termination is considered, that
thought should be given for termination where there have been even
a few, yet very outstanding examples of poor performance. The
reason for this is that if it is more than one member who is
performing badly, then over a significant period of time, the
impact of a generally poor Board performance may be unrecoverable
and unable to be buffered by a minority performing well.
18 provides that meetings must be held as is necessary for
the Board to efficiently perform its functions. At least four
meetings must be held each calendar year and the Chair must convene
a meeting if requested in writing by 3 or more members or the
20 provides the conditions for a quorum and clause
21 outlines the determination of voting at a meeting.
23 provides that the Board must keep minutes of its
24 allows the Board to make decisions out of session,
where it is deemed necessary and this clause provides rules for out
of session decision taking.
25 provides that the Board must, as soon as practicable
after the end of each financial year, prepare and give to the
Minister, for presentation to the Parliament, a report on its
operations during that year. In its annual report, the Board must
include details of any written directions given to it by the
26 provides that the Secretary of the Department of
Energy, Resources and Tourism must, by writing, designate a
position in the Department as the Chief Executive Officer of ACRE,
a position to be occupied by an SES employee.
Clause 27 provides that staff
may be engaged under the Public Service Act 1999, to
assist the Board. Consultants and other persons may also be
engaged to assist the Board.
Members, Senators and Parliamentary staff can obtain further
information from the Parliamentary Library on (02) 6277 2404.
23 February 2010
Bills Digest Service
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