The Attorney-General's Department has policy responsibility for legislative frameworks. This includes the harmonisation of regulatory powers across the Commonwealth statute book, through supporting the implementation of the Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Act 2014 (the Regulatory Powers Act).
The Administrative Law Section manages the Regulatory Powers Act and provides policy advice on legislative proposals involving the use of regulatory powers. Agencies seeking further information should contact the Administrative Law Section.
Regulatory Powers Act
The Regulatory Powers Act provides for a standard suite of provisions in relation to monitoring and investigation powers, as well as enforcement provisions through the use of civil penalties, infringement notices, enforceable undertakings and injunctions. The Act commenced on 1 October 2014, but only has effect where Commonwealth Acts are drafted or amended to trigger its provisions.
The standard provisions of the Regulatory Powers Act are an accepted baseline of powers required for an effective monitoring, investigation or enforcement regulatory regime, whilst providing adequate safeguards and protecting important common law privileges.
More information about the Act is available in the following fact sheet:
Regulatory powers are the coercive and enforcement powers used by government agencies to ensure individuals and industry comply with legislative requirements.
In the context of the Regulatory Powers Act, these powers include:
- monitoring powers, which can be used to monitor compliance with provisions of an Act and to monitor whether information given to the Commonwealth is correct (Part 2)
- investigation powers, which can be used to gather material that relates to the contravention of an offence or civil penalty provision (Part 3)
- the power to apply to a court for civil penalty orders and injunctions (Parts 4 and 7)
- the power to issue infringement notices (Part 5)
- the power to accept and seek enforcement of undertakings relating to compliance with legislative provisions (Part 6).
Proposals that seek to establish or amend frameworks that provide for regulatory powers should trigger the standard provisions of the Regulatory Powers Act, unless there are compelling policy reasons to the contrary.
Implementation of the Regulatory Powers Act supports the government's regulatory reform agenda, as it simplifies and streamlines Commonwealth regulatory powers across the statute book.
The Administrative Law Section should be consulted on any legislative proposals that involve monitoring, investigation or enforcement powers of the type available under the Regulatory Powers Act.
More information on 'triggering' the standard provisions of the Regulatory Powers Act can be found in the following fact sheet:
Guide to the Regulatory Powers Act
Our department is currently developing a Guide to the Regulatory Powers Act, which will be published on this website. The guide will consider the use of civil and administrative penalties, and will complement the Guide to Framing Commonwealth Offences, Infringement Notices and Enforcement Powers. It is intended that the guide will be the primary resource for matters relating to the Regulatory Powers Act and legal policy regarding civil and administrative penalties.
In the interim, agencies may wish to refer to the following resources:
- the Office of Parliamentary Counsel's Drafting Direction No. 3.5A, which includes examples of provisions triggering the Regulatory Powers Act
- Report No. 48 of the Administrative Review Council, The Coercive Information-gathering Powers of Government Agencies
- Report No. 95 of the Australian Law Reform Commission, Principled Regulation: Federal Civil and Administrative Penalties in Australia.
Government agencies should consult the Administrative Law Section on proposals that seek to establish or amend frameworks providing for regulatory powers which depart from the scheme set out in the Regulatory Powers Act, by emailing email@example.com.