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Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Page: 2469


Senator JACINTA COLLINS (VictoriaManager of Government Business in the Senate and Parliamentary Secretary for School Education and Workplace Relations) (15:39): I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:

That the provisions of paragraphs (5) to (8) of standing order 111 not apply to the following bills, allowing them to be considered during this period of sittings:

Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Amendment (R 18+ Computer Games) Bill 2012

Family Assistance and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2012

Family Law Amendment (Validation of Certain Orders and Other Measures) Bill 2012

Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Disability Support Pension Participation Reforms) Bill 2012.

I also table statements of reasons justifying the need for these bills to be considered during these sittings and seek leave to have the statements incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The statements read as follows—

STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR INTRODUCTION AND PASSAGE IN THE 2012 AUTUMN SITTINGS

CLASSIFICATION (PUBLICATIONS, FILMS AND COMPUTER GAMES) AMENDMENT (R 18+ COMPUTER GAMES) BILL 2012

Purpose of the Bill

The bill amends the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (the Act) to introduce an R 18+ category for computer games, and to make consequential amendments to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 to recognise the introduction of an R 18+ category for computer games.

Reasons for Urgency

The introduction of an R 18+ category for computer games into the National Classification Scheme (NCS) in the Autumn sittings is critical to ensure sufficient time for consequential amendments to State and Territory classification legislation - which hinge on amendments to the Commonwealth legislation - to be passed in 2012. In accordance with the project timeline prepared for the July 2011 Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) meeting where in principle agreement to the introduction of an R 18+ category was obtained, the bill requires passage by 31 March 2012.

The NCS is a cooperative scheme between the Commonwealth, States and Territories that requires unanimous agreement of all jurisdictions to effect changes to the National Classification Code and any guidelines determined by Censorship Ministers under section 6 and section 12 respectively of the Act. The agreement to introduce an R 18+ category has been reached after 10 years of complex negotiations, and the Commonwealth should be seen to be taking the lead in implementing this historic agreement.

 

FAMILY ASSISTANCE AND OTHER LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL

Purpose of the Bill

The bill provides better targeting of immunisation incentives by replacing maternity immunisation allowance with an arrangement that makes payment of the family tax benefit Part A supplement conditional on a child being fully immunised, and resets to $5,000 the amount of baby bonus paid per child and pauses indexation of baby bonus for three years. The bill ensures the correct access to relevant benefits for certain customers whose entitlements have been based on an income estimate during the entitlement year and who have had a zero entitlement for two consecutive years at reconciliation. The bill also extends bereavement payments to certain carer allowance recipients caring for a disabled adult, on the death of that adult, and extends carer supplement for certain carers who would otherwise lose payment because of employment income during an instalment period that includes 1 July in a year.

Reasons for Urgency

Most measures are to be implemented from 1 July 2012. Passage during the 2012 Autumn sittings is necessary to achieve this because Centrelink would need to write to affected customers after the passage of legislation and in sufficient time before their fortnightly payments are affected from 1 July 2012. Urgent passage of the carer supplement measure would also give carers extra security as they make employment decisions in the period leading up to and beyond 1 July 2012.

 

FAMILY LAW AMENDMENT (VALIDATION OF CERTAIN ORDERS AND OTHER MEASURES) BILL

Purpose of the Bill

The bill will validate certain orders of the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Magistrates Court made in the absence of Proclamations under subsection 40(2) of the Family Law Act 1975, and make related amendments to that Act.

Reasons for Urgency

The need for this bill arose from the discovery that two Proclamations had not been made, in 2006 and 2009, setting the date from which the Family Court could exercise its appeal jurisdiction in relation to decisions of Family Law Magistrates of Western Australia and the de facto property and maintenance jurisdiction. This has created some uncertainty about the status of orders made by the Family Court, and for the de facto property and maintenance orders, orders made by the Federal Magistrates Court as a consequence of section 40A of the Family Law Act.

As a result, individuals might be unclear about whether they should transfer their interest in the family home to their ex-partner in compliance with an order made before the Proclamation. They might also be unclear about whether they can on-sell property which they received as part of a property settlement order made before the Proclamation. Until this bill is passed by the Parliament, the only avenue available to address any doubt is to apply to the courts for an order about the status of their particular orders or to apply for new orders.

Passage of this bill in the Autumn 2012 Parliamentary sittings will eliminate that uncertainty for affected persons and avoid the need for them to return to court to seek declarations about the status of their orders or apply to have new orders made.

 

SOCIAL SECURITY AND OTHER LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (DISABILITY SUPPORT PENSION PARTICIPATION REFORMS) BILL

Purpose of the Bill

The bill amends the disability support pension provisions from 1 July 2012 to introduce compulsory participation interviews for certain recipients, allow certain recipients to work up to 30 hours a week in open employment without affecting their qualification, and allow recipients in specified circumstances to take their base rate of disability support pension overseas indefinitely.

Reasons for Urgency

It has been announced that the three disability support pension measures will commence on 1 July 2012. Ahead of that date, Centrelink will have to make complex and substantial changes to computer systems, procedures, forms and guidelines. Passage in the 2012 Autumn sittings would also give customers who are affected, and their families and carers, sufficient notice of the changes and time to organise their personal affairs so they can manage the changes. For example, people will have certainty as they consider employment options in the period leading up to the new arrangements.