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Thursday, 12 May 2011
Page: 3802


Mr BRENDAN O'CONNOR (GortonMinister for Privacy and Freedom of Information, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Justice) (10:31): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

This is the last of three bills that will give effect to the 2010-11 budget announcement that from the 2011-12 financial year, the Australian Transaction and Reports Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) would recover the costs of its regulatory activities from the businesses regulated under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-terrorism Financing Act 2006 (AML/CTF Act).

This bill amends the AML/CTF Act to require reporting entities to enrol with AUSTRAC and allow infringement notices to be issued for failure to enrol and failure to appropriately maintain enrolment details.

Mandatory enrolment

Currently businesses required to be regulated by AUSTRAC are encouraged to voluntarily enrol with AUSTRAC by facilitating electronic reporting for those businesses that enrol through AUSTRAC online. As at January 2011, 17,888 businesses had enrolled with AUSTRAC—1,590 more than in January 2010.

In moving to a cost recovery environment, the government considers that enrolment must become mandatory to implement a transparent, efficient and effective cost recovery scheme. Mandatory enrolment enables AUSTRAC to comprehensively identify its regulated population for the purpose of calculating and applying the AUSTRAC supervisory cost recovery levy. Failure to enrol attracts a civil penalty of up to 100,000 penalty units (currently $11 million) for businesses or 20,000 penalty units (currently $2.2 million) for individuals.

The levy for a particular business will be calculated in accordance with the information provided by the business on enrolment. Provision of false or misleading information to AUSTRAC is already a criminal offence under the AML/CTF Act regime.

Businesses regulated by AUSTRAC will be required to enrol within 28 days of providing or commencing to provide a designated service or within 28 days of the commencement of the relevant provisions of the bill.

The details of what businesses will be required to provide to AUSTRAC will be contained in rules. The AUSTRAC CEO will make the rules under the AML/CTF Act, in consultation with affected businesses. These rules will require reporting entities to provide business and contact details, as well as specific details that facilitate the calculation of the levy. To the greatest extent possible, these requirements mirror the information currently provided voluntarily by reporting entities to AUSTRAC.

Once enrolled, businesses will be required to keep their details up to date. The penalty for failing to keep details up to date is also a civil penalty provision and may attract the same penalties as a failure to enrol.

In addition, businesses may make a request to the AUSTRAC CEO to have their name and details removed from the roll. Prior to doing this the AUSTRAC CEO may take into consideration whether the business has discharged its reporting obligations.

Infringement Notice Scheme

Schedule 2 of the bill extends the infringement notice scheme to the offences for failure to enrol and failure to appropriately maintain enrolment details. This infringement notices scheme will enable the AUSTRAC CEO to respond to breaches in a more efficient and proportionate way than proceeding to court. The use of infringement notices in these instances is consistent with AUSTRAC's use of infringement notices more broadly, and the powers and approach of other Commonwealth regulators.

I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.