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Wednesday, 24 August 1994
Page: 193


Senator BOLKUS (Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (12.00 noon) —The government does not support the amendments. Although Senator Spindler has an objective in mind, what he is proposing may have a number of unintended consequences. My advice is that the Service and Execution of Process Act does provide for interstate service of process issued by state and territory courts and tribunals but that it constitutes a very small proportion of process served in Australia. It does not, for instance, include process issued by federal courts or state or territory process that is served within the jurisdiction.

  Putting that aside, there are many drafting problems with the amendments about which I have been informed. For instance, the words in the amendment `process to which this act applies' are not defined under SEPA. As a consequence, it could mean any process issued by a state or territory court or tribunal, since SEPA allows such process to be served. I am not sure that Senator Spindler wants to go that far. Even if he does, the reference to SEPA may have been used in this way to provide a constitutional nexus, and I am not so sure that that is something we should be going into without a broader consideration of all the issues involved. There are those sorts of unintended consequences.

  Also, those words cannot refer to a process which has been served under SEPA because the amendment purports to prescribe alternative services, and so on. The other definitional problem relates to the words `process in relation to debt'. Those words are very broad and in fact would include subpoenas. However, from the related amendment it seems that the amendment is probably not intended to apply to cases where the protected person is sought as a witness. We have that confusion about the role of subpoenas. If the amendment is intended to apply to subpoenas, it is difficult to see why the words of this amendment are limited to a narrow range of proceedings. There are all sorts of unintended consequences which flow from amendment No. 6 in combination with amendments Nos 10 and 11. Because of that, the government does not support these three amendments.