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Contact Officer & Copyright Details
Date Introduced: 3 December 1998
House: House of Representatives
Portfolio: Industry, Science and Resources
Commencement: Formally, on Royal Assent. However, the
substantive provisions commence:
- on a day to be fixed by proclamation, or
- if not proclaimed within six months of Royal Assent - on the
first day after the end of that period.
To amend the National Measurement Act
1960 (the Act) to provide mandatory requirements for the
manufacture of specified utility meters and legal measuring
instruments attached to reticulated water, electricity and gas
History of standards development in Australia
From 1788 to the late 1800s, standards in the
Australian colonies were introduced by way of Regulations, General
Orders, Proclamations and Ordinances based on British statutes and
included regulation of the distillation of spirits and the
determination of coinage for the colony.
Introduction of the Commerce (Trade
Descriptions) Act in 1905 set in place national standards for trade
descriptions of the quality of certain goods sold for export.
By the late 1920s and during the early 1930s
State Commissions and local authorities were set up with
responsibility for power generation, the regulation of
installations and the safety of appliances and equipment powered by
In 1936 the National Gas Association was formed
to provide a consolidated national approach to standardisation. An
approvals scheme for gas appliances was instituted.
In 1937 responsibility for Commonwealth
statutory standards of measurement (length, mass, quantities, etc.)
was handed over to the CSIRO from the Department of Defence.
When the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme
commenced in 1949 all manner of standards were utilised to
administer the project, including those set down in building,
electrical and industrial safety regulations as well as those
peculiar to the purchasing specifications involved with the
From the 1950s through to the 1980s considerable
attention was directed towards industrial and public health and
safety and, consequently, to standards for personal protective
equipment and codes for safe working practice. Design rules for
road vehicles laid down specifications for safe design of
components such as seat belts, tyres, brake hoses and steering
columns. Sophisticated computer-based technology was introduced in
the finance and banking sector with automatic banking facilities a
prominent development. These types of facilities are heavily
reliant on standardisation to allow the transfer or interchange of
messages or information, to provide security measures, and to
provide agreed terminology within the industry.
The Kean Inquiry
The Kean Inquiry(2) was initiated as part of the
former Labor Government's microeconomic reform process and in
response to business concerns that Australia's standards and
conformance infrastructure was not meeting industry's needs
adequately. The executive summary of the Kean Inquiry noted
Standards and conformance infrastructure is a
crucial element of the commercial and scientific fabric of a modern
society. An efficient and effective system will encourage
innovation and underpin competitive advantage. It is vital to the
integration of Australian industries into the world economy. It
helps to ensure that Australian products comply with international
specifications and gives buyers confidence that the products will
perform as claimed and are fit for purpose.
The infrastructure comprises three
- Standards, and
Measurement provides the foundation of
commercial and scientific activities.
Standards provide the basis for efficiency in
producing and trading goods suited to the needs of the
Conformance provides confidence in performance
and certainty that goods and services meet specifications and that
regulatory needs are being met.
This proposed legislation implements the
recommendations of the Inquiry relating to utility meters.
Recommendation 6 provides that:
The National Measurement Act be amended to
provide for mandatory requirements for specified utility meters and
legal measuring instruments and that these requirements be based on
those adopted by the International Organisation for Legal
Pros and cons
- Legal mandates on meter accuracy and calibration will increase
- National standardisation will enhance export opportunities for
Australian manufacturers through compliance and compatibility with
- Standard metering will provide a platform for competition among
manufacturers and other incidental articles of trade
- Compliance with the proposed legislation will cause additional
costs for manufacturers
- The National Standards Commission will incur costs associated
with coordinating the system.
Schedule 1 items amend the
National Measurement Act 1960 (the Act) as specified
throughout the Schedule. The amendments relate to utility
Items 1-3 provide for
definitions of 'utility meters', 'verification' and 'verifying
Item 6 extends the objects of
the Act to encompass a system of verification of utility meters
used for trade.
Item 8 provides for a general
rule that Commonwealth laws apply to utility meters used for trade.
However, certain State and Territory laws shall coexist where those
laws relate to improper practices, provided there is no
inconsistency with Commonwealth laws. Re-verification of utility
meters remains under the control of State and Territory
Item 9 extends the functions of
the National Standards Commission (the Commission) to encompass the
verification of utility meters used for trade and the application
of the new Part VA.
New Part VA inserts five new
Divisions into the Act.
Division 1 provides for
definitions and the application of Chapter 2 of the Criminal
Code to all offences under new Part VA. Chapter 2 of the
Criminal Code codifies principles of criminal responsibility.
Division 2 mandates
verification of utility meters used in trade and provides that they
must be used in a way that gives an accurate measurement. Persons
must not install or supply an unverified utility meter. The
Division also imposes a requirement that gas, electricity and water
are to be sold by reference to a prescribed measurement.
Division 3 deals with the
requirements for verification and persons permitted to verify
utility meters. The Division also provides for offences related to
Division 4 provides that the
Commission is a verifying authority. The Commission may, subject to
conditions set out in proposed section 18ZD, appoint other persons
as verifying authorities. Provisions relating to officers and
agents of the Commission and employees of appointed verifiers are
also dealt with in this Division. The Administrative Appeals
Tribunal may review a Commission decision under proposed sections
18ZC(3) and 18ZJ.
Division 5 deals with
authorised officers and sets out the framework for enforcement and
monitoring. Five subdivisions provide for the:
- Appointment of authorised officers (subdivision A)
- General powers of authorised officers (subdivision B)
- Obligations of authorised officers (subdivision C)
- Rights and responsibilities of occupiers (subdivision D),
- Warrants (subdivision E).
Item 14 provides that gas,
electricity and water meters currently in use for trade are
verified under proposed new Part VA. Any new meters must be
separately verified upon commencement of this proposed
Schedule 2 addresses anomalies
in the Act arising from amendments made in 1991. Consequential
amendments updating references were not made at the time. Schedule
2 remedies that omission.
- For example, the National Electricity Grid and inter-State gas
- Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Australia's Standards
and Conformance Infrastructure, Linking Industry Globally,
- Relates to the appointment of verifying authorities by the
27 January 1999
Bills Digest Service
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