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Monday, 15 March 2010
Page: 2527


Mr KEENAN (4:31 PM) —I rise to speak on the Trans-Tasman Proceedings Bill 2009 and the Trans-Tasman Proceedings (Transitional and Consequential Provisions) Bill 2009. Over time there has been a significant increase in the movement of goods, people and services between Australia and New Zealand, giving rise to the greater possibility of legal disputes with the trans-Tasman element involved. It should be noted that the groundwork for this bill was largely laid out by the former coalition government. The economic relationship between Australia and New Zealand has been close for many years with several trans-Tasman initiatives underway, including the Trans-Tasman Travel Agreement in 1973, the Australia New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement 1983, the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement 1988 and the Joint Trans-Tasman Council on Banking Supervision 2005. It is within this context that in 2003 Prime Minister John Howard and New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark established the Trans-Tasman Working Group on Court Proceedings and Regulatory Enforcement.

I will now turn to the specific provisions of this bill, which streamlines and simplifies the process for resolving a significant proportion of these disputes. The Trans-Tasman Proceedings Bill 2009 implements the agreement between the governments of Australia and New Zealand on trans-Tasman court proceedings and regulatory enforcement. As I just detailed, the bill came about following the establishment of the Trans-Tasman Working Group on Court Proceedings and Regulatory Enforcement by prime ministers Howard and Clark in 2003. The working group’s terms of reference were to examine the effectiveness and appropriateness of current arrangements relating to civil proceedings and civil penalty proceedings as well as criminal proceedings relating to regulatory matters. Its membership comprised senior officials from relevant government departments of both countries. In 2007 the Australian and New Zealand governments agreed to implement the recommendations of the working group. The agreement based on these recommendations was signed on 24 July 2008 by the Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, and the New Zealand associate justice minister, Lianne Dalziel.

The agreement allows civil proceedings from a court in one country to be served in the other without additional requirements. It extends the range of civil court judgments enforceable between the two nations. Judgments could only be refused to be enforced if they conflicted with public policy in the country of enforcement. The agreement provides for interim relief to be obtained from the court in one country in support of civil proceedings in another, allows the regime to be extended to tribunals on a case-by-case basis, adopts a common rule to apply when a dispute could be heard by a court in either country, encourages greater use of technology for trans-Tasman court appearances, allows enforcement of civil penalty orders across the Tasman and allows fines for certain regulatory offences to be enforced across the Tasman where there is a strong mutual interest in doing so.

Turning to the second of the two bills that we are debating here today, the Trans-Tasman Proceedings (Transitional and Consequential Provisions) Bill 2009, the purpose of this bill is to address transitional and consequential matters relating to the Trans-Tasman Proceedings Bill 2009. Introduced with the Trans-Tasman Proceedings Bill 2009, this bill amends the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 in relation to the conduct of trans-Tasman market proceedings, makes consequential amendments to seven acts and repeals the Evidence and Procedure (New Zealand) Act.

In conclusion, the Trans-Tasman Proceedings Bill 2009 implements the agreements between the governments of Australia and New Zealand on trans-Tasman court proceedings and regulatory enforcement. The agreement seeks to establish a regime for the conduct of court proceedings between Australia and New Zealand which aims to establish a simpler, more cost-effective and more efficient way of resolving cross-border disputes. The coalition supports the passage of both of these bills and I commend both of them to the House.