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Wednesday, 10 October 1984
Page: 1522

Senator MESSNER(10.34) —I move an amendment to clause 5 of the Air Navigation (Charges) Amendment Bill 1984:

(2) Page 3, clause 5, proposed new sub-section 5B (6), lines 25 to 34, leave out the proposed sub-section, insert the following sub-section:

'(6) For the purposes of priorities amongst creditors and the purposes of the distribution of proceeds of a sale made under sub-section (9), the statutory lien has effect as a security interest in respect of the aircraft ranking in priority-

(a) after any security interests in respect of the aircraft created before the time of registration of the statutory lien (together with interest accruing on any such interest after the time of registration of the statutory lien);

(b) after any unsecured debt coming into existence before the time of the registration of a statutory lien;

(c) before any secured interest not falling within paragraph (a); and

(d) before any unsecured debt not falling within paragraph (c).'.

As I pointed out during the second reading debate, the purpose of this amendment is to change the order of priorities which appear in the Air Navigation (Charges ) Amendment Bill 1984 so that the statutory lien set down in it will take priority after any security interests which existed before the organisation came into existence, together with any interest that might accrue thereafter. The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that the person who has a security interest is protected for his or her debt and for the interest as it accrues, and after any unsecured debt that comes into existence before the time of the registration of the lien.

The Minister has said that he will not accept the amendment, but we see this as an issue of some importance in the light of our belief that the Government is being altogether too zealous in seeking to protect the revenue in circumstances where quasi-commercial or even commercial situations exist. We see no reason why the Government should not be taking the same risks as those taken by other people in the community who would be incurring debts in their favour by airlines . For that reason, it is quite beyond the pale that the Government is seeking to put itself in a prior position. We see it as a circumstance that is different from that of taxation, which is raised deliberately from all citizens. Laws govern the factors involved with taxation which is recovered in priority to other debts, and there is that protection thereby flowing to the Commonwealth as a result. However, in these circumstances, we see no reason why the Government should be put in a position that is prior to that of other citizens who cannot obtain the kind of security that the Government can obtain.