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Government reins in rogue department
Released 1 December 2010

The Property Council of Australia has welcomed the Federal Government’s efforts to re-assert control over the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE).

The Federal Government has instructed DCCEE to improve its management of the mandatory disclosure regime for office buildings that starts on 1 November, 2010.

The Property Council of Australia said the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet, and his Parliamentary Secretary, Mark Dreyfus, have responded to industry concerns by directing the department to properly consult with stakeholders and refrain from penalising property owners until grey areas around mandatory disclosure rules are clear.

Property Council of Australia chief executive Peter Verwer said, “Greg Combet and Mark Dreyfus have done a great job of listening to genuine industry concerns.

"Property investors support disclosure of environmental performance, we support the NABERS environmental measurement tool and we are committed to strong industry leadership on these issues.

“However the Department refuses to heed the real world advice of industry practitioners and has turned a very simple, straightforward scheme into a shemozzle.”

The Property Council and its members have provided the Department with multiple examples of implementation problems along with practical solutions, most of which have been ignored.

“We welcome the establishment of a consultative committee, to be called the Commercial Building Disclosure Scheme Implementation Forum,” Verwer said.

“It’s a great pity this committee did not meet until the last day of business before the legislation kicked off and six years after we first proposed it.”

The Property Council says the new implementation committee should be led by an independent chair rather than the Department.

“We’re perplexed by the Department’s refusal to adopt modern governance principles of transparency and independence.”

“Nevertheless, the committee is a step in the right direction as it will help clarify a growing list of implementation grey areas in a regime that carries penalties of $110,000.

“We’ll watch closely to ensure the Department doesn’t penalise the industry before it clarifies its own rules and releases plain English compliance guidelines.

“Despite all these issues, the Property Council supports the mandatory disclosure scheme based on the guarantees provided by the Government.”