Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

Senator the Hon Don Farrell

Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water

Water efficiency labelling and standards scheme enhanced

Media release
28 June 2012

The national Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) Scheme has been strengthened with the passage through Parliament this week of the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Amendment (Scheme Enhancements) Bill 2012.

The WELS Scheme helps consumers to save water and money, and industry to showcase water-efficient technology, by requiring washing machines, dishwashers, showers, toilets and tap equipment to be registered and labelled with a water efficiency rating of between zero to six stars.

The most water efficient products are indicated by six stars. The labels inform consumer purchasing decisions in the same way as energy rating labels on electrical appliances. The Scheme also sets minimum water efficiency standards for toilets and washing machines.

The Bill improves the scheme’s efficiency and effectiveness and how it interacts with industry.

Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water, Senator Don Farrell, said the changes fulfil the Government’s commitment to water efficiency, labelling and standards as part of the Council of Australian Governments’ National Water Initiative.

“The WELS Scheme is widely supported by industry makes a valuable contribution to conserving water and informing consumers about the water efficiency of products,” he said.

“The changes in this Bill build on the Scheme’s success and position it well to meet future challenges.”

The legislation implements the response of the Standing Council on Environment and Water (SCEW), incorporating Commonwealth, state and territory environment and water ministers, to an independent 2010 review of the WELS Scheme.

In particular it now provides the scheme with the flexibility to allow registration arrangements to achieve the cost recovery framework agreed by the SCEW.

“Product registration will be made simpler and easier for registrants and the Bill also introduces a broader range of compliance and enforcement options,” Senator Farrell said.

“Consistent with the recommendations from the 2010 independent review, it introduces civil penalties to match existing criminal offences and remakes some of the existing criminal offences for clarity.

“The Bill also streamlines the process for making future administrative changes to the scheme. However, any changes will require agreement from a majority of state and territory governments.”