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Wednesday, 11 May 2011
Page: 3692


Mr KEENAN (Stirling) (10:42): I rise to talk on the Trans-Tasman Proceedings Amendment and Other Measures Bill 2011. The coalition supports the passage of this bill which seeks to give further effect to the Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement between Australia and our very good friend and partner New Zealand and, in particular, the Agreement on Trans-Tasman Court Proceedings and Regulatory Enforcement of July 2008. The latter agreement was substantially given effect to by the Trans-Tasman Proceedings Act 2010 which passed, again with coalition support. As mentioned in the bill's explanatory memorandum, this agreement will enhance cooperation between Australia and New Zealand in civil court proceedings, enable trans-Tasman disputes to be resolved more effectively and at a lower cost to businesses and individuals, and create conditions for increased trade and commerce across the Tasman.

This bill makes minor amendments to the principal act to ensure consistency of language and application with the corresponding New Zealand legislation and to adopt the recommendations of the New Zealand Parliament's justice committee. Those recommendations were directed towards preventing spurious claims for a stay of proceedings based upon reliance on jurisdictional specific statutes. The bill also corrects a technical error in amendments to the Family Law Act 1975 in relation to court fees payable in respect of de facto relationship financial proceedings. It should be noted that this error was rectified prospectively through amendments to the Family Law Regulations 1984 which came into force on 22 November 2010.

The Agreement on Trans-Tasman Court Proceedings and Regulatory Enforcement sets out the following objectives in the accompanying national interest analysis: to streamline the process for resolving civil proceedings with a trans-Tasman element in order to reduce costs, improve efficiency and minimise impediments to enforcing certain judgments and regulatory sanctions. The agreement increases certainty for trade by creating clear means through which to pursue civil litigation and will benefit both businesses and individuals involved in legal disputes across the Tasman. In conclusion, the bill is finetuning certain parts of the existing but not yet commenced legislation in order to harmonise more closely with its counterpart New Zealand legislation prior to the agreement coming into force. The coalition supports the passage of the bill and I therefore commend it to the House.