April 17, 2005

The WELS Act

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:37 pm by thelawthoughts

Next on our list of legislative enactments is the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Act (Cth), which is designed to establish a State-Federal co-operative scheme for the labelling products with their water efficiency.

The first noticeable point is the level of co-operation, States can (and, in Victoria’s case, have) pass legislation to the same effect as the Cth legislation. Where an act is an offence against that State legislation, the act is not an offence under the Federal legislation and cannot be enforced under the Federal legislation. This demonstrates a high degree of deference by the Federal government to State enforcement, in a time when we are hearing so much about Federal attempts to override State power. Maybe they are just making these attempts on the important stuff.

The Cth Minister is entitled to declare products “WELS products”, but only with the agreement of the majority of States. In so determining, the Minister must set out the “WELS standard” which will be applied to the product, being the rating criteria for the product’s water efficiency and general performance, along with the requirements (presumably on manufacturers – retailers??) to communicate these ratings to consumers.

The determination can require products to be registered, and if it does, can require the product to have a minimum water efficiency and minimum general performance levels. Presumably, the product cannot be sold if the determination requires a standard the product cannot meet.

There is also a WELS Regulator established, whose function it is to administer the scheme, as well as research water saving techniques and devices and yada yada yada.

Registration of products lasts for five years, so it is a good idea to get registered if the determination requires it!! You need to be registered because if you are not, and you need to be, and you sell a product which is meant to be registered, you are subject to a hefty fine, 60 penalty units (last time I checked $110 per, but could easily be more now!). There is another 60 if you don’t label and you are meant to. These are strict liability offences.

If there is a minimum water efficiency and the product is subject to that minimum, does not meet it and is sold anyway, another 60. The product doesn’t meet general performance standards?? It is meant to?? Another 60.

There is a scary sounding guy called a WELS inspector, who can come around and visit if he is given the power to.

There is plenty of other boring procedural stuff, but the main thrust of the legislation is: we are in a drought. We need to restrict water use and make sure products are water efficient. If they are meant to be and they are not, fines will apply.

Easy enough??


April 3, 2005

Britain scraps double jeopardy

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:01 pm by thelawthoughts

I am really interested to find out what this new law actually provides, because it seems Britain is getting rid of the prohibition (is that what you call it?) against being tried twice for the same offence.

Usually, 800 year old rules are good rules and don’t need to be changed. I am not being conservative, I just think that rules that have worked for that long generally work and are based on fundamentally sound principles.

This seems like a funny thing to do, it would need HUGE safeguards against abuse. The whole point of double jeopardy is to provide closure. Once a person is acquitted, they don’t have to live the entire rest of their life looking over their shoulder on the off chance a new piece of evidence (false or not) would come to light and get them convicted.

Apart from anything else, how on earth can Scotland Yard have a go at people who have published books confessing to their murders? I mean, they are dickheads for writing a book, but to review anybody’s case as this story says they plan to do is surely retrospective lawmaking. Surely if any change is made to a law, it cannot be made applicable to persons who have acted under the expectation of the law in force at the time being the law that applies to their actions.

I don’t know, maybe I am missing something. Maybe the story is inaccurate. But bloody hell, if it is true, heaven help anybody accused of any crime any time, guilty or not. No matter what the outcome, they will not be able to escape the possibility that a conviction may occur, or at least be attempted, 50 years after an original trial, just because technology is better. Sounds frightening to me.