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Monday, 14 August 2000
Page: 16239


Senator IAN CAMPBELL (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts) (4:23 PM) —I move:

That these bills be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speeches incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speeches read as follows

DEFENCE LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (AID TO CIVILIAN AUTHORITIES) BILL 2000

Defence Legislation Amendment (Aid to Civilian Authorities) Bill 2000 proposes to amend the Defence Act 1903 to bring the framework for call out of the Defence Force in law enforcement emergencies up to date. I believe the bill provides a sound basis for the use of the Defence Force as a last resort in resolving such emergencies.

The drafting of this bill follows a process of examination of Australia's counter terrorist capability and response framework that has been in place for over twenty years. The impetus for this examination was the Hilton Bombing which occurred at the time of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting in 1978 which, it may be recalled, led to the call out of significant numbers of the Defence Force to secure the town of Bowral. Following these events, the government appointed Justice Hope to carry out a Protective Security Review. Justice Hope produced a report which contained numerous recommendations relating to Australia's counter terrorism preparedness. Many of those recommendations have been acted upon over the years, focusing on aspects relating to physical reaction capability, coordination amongst relevant authorities and intelligence capability.

Justice Hope made a number of recommendations regarding the use of the Defence Force assisting in law enforcement and he proposed that legislation be enacted to provide for the process, powers and accountability regime for when the Defence Force is called on in such circumstances. The Hope Report highlighted the unsatisfactory state of the existing call out framework, including anachronistic provisions. There was no express accountability to Parliament and there was a lack of authority vested in members of the Defence Force when called out. These concerns were also echoed by academic legal commentators at the time.

The existing legislation is not responsive to contemporary needs. Rather it reflects its 18th Century English origins which focused on riot control - at a time before modern police services were developed. This can be seen by the archaic references in this legislation to the presence of magistrates, the blowing of bugles and the reading of proclamations, requirements that do not assist, or may possibly even inhibit the resolution of modern day terrorist incidents.

The present legislative framework does not provide sufficient accountability to Parliament. Nor does the legislation provide members of the Defence Force with appropriate authority to perform the tasks they may be required to carry out either in an assault upon terrorists or in a related public safety emergency. Furthermore, there needs to be provision both for safeguards in the exercise of such authority and also accountability for the actions of individuals as well as government.

Our expectations for use of the Defence Force have been distilled over the years since 1978 in the National Anti-Terrorist Plan now in its sixth edition. This plan was formulated in coordination with all those agencies, State, Territory and Commonwealth, who are involved in counter terrorist response. Under the plan, the Defence Force will only be called out to assist State or Territory law enforcement agencies where they may not have the capability to resolve an incident.

Tasking for the Defence Force may include the use of specialised assault equipment and skills to deal with the more sophisticated security threats in order to release hostages, or to recover hijacked aircraft, ships, vehicles, offshore oil and gas installations and buildings. They may also be asked to perform tasks related to resolution of such incidents by providing cordons, assisting in evacuations, searching premises for and seizing and making safe dangerous items such as fire arms and bombs, controlling of public movement, picketing and guarding and temporarily detaining suspects. Such support might be required in a situation involving a chemical, biological or radiological device where the assistance of the Defence Force is required to evacuate and secure a large area.

The response in other democracies has been varied. In many countries a third or paramilitary force has been created that has special legislation governing their actions. Examples are the GSG 9 in Germany, the Gendarmerie in France, the Caribineri in Italy, the National Guard and Coast Guard in the United States. Such an option is not considered appropriate or necessary in Australia. Another option adopted by New Zealand, and Canada is to simply assign to members of their defence force the same powers, obligations and protections as are available to their police services.

This approach is not considered desirable as it encourages the view that the Defence Force is a substitute for the police force rather than to support them, the powers available to Defence personnel would be different from State to State and because it is preferable to make provision only for specific tasks the Defence Force might be asked to perform.

Other unique difficulties exist for Australia in relation to the nature of our Federal structure. Each State and Territory currently has different emergency legislation. In addition the Constitution specifically prohibits and precludes the exercise of control over Defence Force personnel other than by the Commonwealth. This situation makes it imperative for Federal legislation to provide a cohesive and clear framework for call out.

The concept behind this bill, therefore, is to modernise the procedures to be followed for call out of the Defence Force, set out safeguards including parliamentary supervision, and specify the powers and obligations of the Defence Force when used to assist the police, as a last resort, in the counter terrorist assault role and for related public safety tasks.

The bill itself amends the Defence Act 1903 by repealing most of section 51 and adding a new Part. The government also proposes to repeal those parts of the Australian Military and Air Force Regulations that deal with call out. Under the bill, call out may be initiated to protect Commonwealth interests, or on the application of a State or Territory to assist that State or Territory resolve a law enforcement incident. The proposed legislation is consistent with the obligation imposed on the Commonwealth under section 119 of the Constitution to protect a State, upon request to the Commonwealth, against domestic violence.

Call out will only occur if the Prime Minister, Minister for Defence and Attorney General agree that a State or Territory is not, or is unlikely to be able to protect the Commonwealth or itself against the domestic violence. In making or revoking an order the Governor-General acts on the advice of Executive Council or for reasons of urgency, he or she is to act with the advice of an authorising Minister. The Chief of the Defence Force is to use the Defence Force for the purpose set out in the Order. Subject to directions from the Minister, the Chief of the Defence Force will determine the composition of the force to be deployed and exercise command of it.

The Chief of the Defence Force must ensure that the Defence Force, while remaining under his command at all times, must assist and cooperate with the police force of the State or Territory. Members of the Defence Force will only be able to exercise such powers as are specified in the Order, which in turn may only be from those powers that are set out in the bill. As far as is practicable, members of the Defence Force will not be able to exercise these powers unless requested to perform a task by the police of the State or Territory.

The Order must state the nature of the Commonwealth interest threatened and the domestic violence. It must state that it comes into force when made and unless revoked earlier it will cease after 20 days. The Order must be revoked if the Ministers cease to be satisfied that call out is warranted or the State or Territory withdraws its application. When an Order or Orders cease to be in force then the Minister for Defence must as soon as practicable and within 3 sitting days table a copy of the Order or Orders and any declarations and report on the use of the Defence Force.

The Defence Force counter terrorist assault role will be provided for in Division 2 of the proposed new Part. This Division authorises the assault force to, among other things, rescue hostages and recapture premises. The Division also permits these personnel to do things related to this purpose such as detaining suspects until they can be handed over to a police officer, evacuating persons found in the premises, search the premises for dangerous objects and to seize and make safe such objects.

In relation to those tasks associated with public safety arising from an emergency, specified powers will be set out in Division 3. I should emphasise that these powers will only conferred on members of the Defence Force when a general or designated security area is declared by Ministers and only on those personnel called out. The fact of the declaration of a general or designated security area, the reasons for the declaration of such an area and the powers that the Defence Force may exercise in it must be advised to the public.

Within a general security area, if the Chief of the Defence Force or an officer authorised by him believes on reasonable grounds that there is a dangerous object, such as a bomb, chemical weapon or firearm that could be used to cause death, serious injury to persons or serious damage to property on any premises in the area and it is necessary as a matter of urgency to make the dangerous object safe or prevent it being used, then members of the Defence Force may be authorised to search such premises. The authorisation requires the following matters to be set out including:

• a description of the premises;

• identification of the member in charge;

• state the names of the authorising Officer and other search members authorised to carry out the search;

• authorise the seizure of items believed on reasonable grounds to be dangerous object;

• authorise the search of persons near the premises who is believed on reasonable grounds to have a dangerous object in his or her possession;

• to seize that object; and

• state the time that the authorisation remains in force, which cannot be for more than 24 hours.

In acting under the authorisation the member of the Defence Force may use such force as is reasonable and necessary in the circumstances.

A copy of the authorisation has to be given to the occupier and the member in charge must identify themselves to the occupier and any person searched must be shown a copy of the authorisation. The occupier is entitled to observe the search provided the person does not attempt to impede the search.

Defence Force members may also be authorised to search a means of transport in the area if they believe on reasonable grounds that the transport contains a dangerous object, and may erect barriers and use reasonable and necessary force stop, detain and search the transport for as long as necessary to search it and to seize any dangerous thing. If there are reasonable grounds for believing that a person in the general security area generally is in possession of a dangerous object Defence Force members may search the person and seize the dangerous thing.

Division 3 also introduces the concept of the designated area which the Ministers may declare to be in effect within the confines of the general security area. If such an area is declared it must once again be advised to the public including its specific boundaries.

Within the designated area a member of the Defence Force may use reasonable and necessary force to direct a person not to bring a means of transport, such as a car, into the area, to take it out of the area, move it to another place within the area or not to move it at all.

Within the designated area members of the Defence Force may erect barriers and remove or move any unattended means of transport. They may direct a person not to enter the area, to leave it or move from one place to another within it and enter and search premises or a means of transport for the purposes of directing any person found therein to leave the area. It will also be possible for members to make it a condition of entry that a person or vehicle be searched for any dangerous object.

Defence Force members will be authorised to make safe or prevent from being used any dangerous object seized under these provisions and, if practicable, will be required to issue a receipt for it. If it is suspected to have been used in the commission of an offence then it must be given to a police officer, if not then it must be returned to the owner. Someone who is suspected of having used the dangerous object to commit an offence may be detained and handed over to the police. In detaining such persons necessary force may be used and if practicable the person must be advised of the nature of the offence unless this is clear in the circumstances.

When exercising the authorities set out in Division 3 it will be an offence for a Defence Force member not to wear uniform and identification attached to the front of the uniform, except where the absence of identification is caused by the act of someone else. It will also be an offence to obstruct a member performing these duties. If a member fails to comply with any obligation in relation to the exercise of these authorities then they will be taken not to have been entitled to exercise them.

The bill has no effect on uses or authorities of the Defence Force under other legislation and powers such as customs, immigration and fisheries legislation. The bill also preserves the current prohibition set out in section 51 of the Defence Act regarding the use of Defence Force elements in connection with industrial disputes.

The bill attempts to provide for the changing nature of the terrorist threat, a threat that was not within contemplation when the Defence Act and its regulations were drafted almost 100 years ago. Today we must be on our guard against not only deadly military style conventional weapons but also the so-called weapons of mass destruction. When the sarum gas device was triggered in Tokyo the lack of control and capability at the scene resulted in around 5,000 people fanning out around the city to contaminate other persons and medical facilities. While there is no expectation that we will ever confront such a threat it would be irresponsible not to be prepared for it. It is scenarios such as this that the Division 3 provisions were designed to address.

Whilst it is the government's intention to bring this bill into effect prior to the Olympics, it should be viewed in the wider context of our counter terrorist preparedness and in that context it should also form part of our long term deterrence posture. Through these measures international terrorists will know that we are serious and we are prepared.

The bill provides for the limited use of the Defence Force in the last resort where there is a significant threat to public safety or to deal with an armed terrorist attack where the resources or capability of a State or Territory may not be adequate. It does so without derogation from our cherished standards of justice and due process of the law. It provides safeguards and accountability. The tasks and authorities of the Defence Force are clearly spelled out so that both the public and the Defence Force know exactly what to expect. This also provides a sound basis upon which the Defence Force can train so that their responses and actions will be measured and appropriate. The bill does not interfere with the jurisdiction of the courts to supervise the actions of the Defence Force. Members of the Defence Force remain accountable for their decisions to use force and the lawfulness of their actions. However, the bill does provide Defence Force members with better protection for the action they may reasonably take.

Finally this bill enshrines fundamental democratic principles in the call out process as opposed to the current inadequate legislative framework and emphasises and provides for the primacy of civilian control. It is a bill which is long overdue and I commend it to the Senate.

ABORIGINAL LAND RIGHTS (NORTHERN TERRI-TORY) AMENDMENT BILL (NO. 3) 2000

The purpose of this bill is to give effect to an agreement recently made between two Aboriginal Land Trusts and the Central Land Council. The agreement will enable the grant to those two Aboriginal Land Trusts of land on which there are several redundant roads over which the public has a right of way. The roads are on land that is contiguous to the lands owned by those two Land Trusts. The lands are included in Schedule 1 of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (`the Land Rights Act'). They were granted to the Trusts under section 10 of the Land Rights Act under the headings `Hermannsburg' and `Haasts Bluff' respectively.

As the Land Rights Act currently stands, only land other than that described in Schedule 1 can be granted to an Aboriginal Land Trust that holds contiguous land, when a previously existing right of way ceases to exist. A parallel section does not exist in case of Schedule 1 land.

The bill gives effect to clauses 15 and 31 of the agreement, which commit the parties to the agreement to requesting the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs to amend the Land Rights Act to correct this anomaly in respect of Schedule 1 land. The amendment will have the effect of enhancing the efforts of the Northern Territory government and the Land Councils to achieve the resolution of land disputes by means of written agreement rather than prolonged and costly disputation.

This bill reflects the on-going commitment by this government to assist in achieving negotiated outcomes in respect of the Land Rights Act and to improving the Act when and if required.

The government has the assurance of all parties to the negotiations that representative views of all Aboriginal people concerned have been obtained and their wishes taken into account.

There are no financial implications arising from this bill.

RENEWABLE ENERGY (ELECTRICITY) BILL 2000

This bill is the primary legislation to implement the government's mandatory renewable energy target.

This legislation brings into force one of Australia's most strategic greenhouse response measures—a legal requirement for large buyers of electricity to source more of their electricity needs from environmentally friendly, renewable fuel sources.

The renewable energy target was originally announced by the Prime Minister on 20 November 1997, in the statement Safeguarding the Future: Australia's Response to Climate Change.

On the eve of the third Conference of the Parties (COP3) under the framework convention on climate change, the Prime Minister announced that `targets will be set for the inclusion of renewable energy in electricity generation by the year 2010. Electricity retailers and other large electricity buyers will be legally required to source an additional 2% of their electricity from renewable or specified waste-product energy sources by 2010'.

This commitment was a cornerstone of the approach we took in Kyoto, an approach which was widely acknowledged as delivering recognition for Australia's special circumstances and in particular, our relatively high dependence on fossil fuels.

This legislation brings into effect that commitment.

The strategic importance of this legislation is not only that it delivers on a key aspect of our commitment in Kyoto. It is not only that it achieves significant greenhouse gas reductions, of up to 7 million tonnes per year. It is also that it represents a big step along the road of `greening' our electricity generation sector - a sector which represents the single largest contributor to Australia's total greenhouse emissions.

Given Australia's projections for growth under a business-as-usual scenario to 128% above 1990 levels, achieving our Kyoto target will require the implementation of some beyond no-regret measures. The government has been clear that this measure is one of those beyond no-regrets policies.

The fact that this government is prepared to introduce this mandatory measure demonstrates the depth of our commitment to reducing Australia's greenhouse gas emissions. Of course, we do not take this step lightly. We have allowed a full two years of detailed consultation with industry, community interests and state and territory governments.

When it comes into force, this measure will see an additional 9,500 gigawatt hours of renewable energy being generated and consumed in Australia over the 2010 to 2020 period. This is equivalent to more than twice the annual renewable electricity generation output of the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme—a scheme that took some quarter of a century to build and which represents, by general regard, one of Australia's true nation-building achievements.

The fact that this target will call forward twice the amount of renewable energy that is generated by the Snowy Hydro Scheme, and do so in just 10 years, underscores the magnitude of the commitment we are making.

Now I noted that this measure is the result of a long process of consultation and technical investigation.

The progress with this measure has been closely followed, from its initial announcement in 1997, through the many phases, which led to the decisions taken by the government in November 1999 on the implementation approach for the measure.

This measure has received a great deal of international attention. It is strongly supported by the renewable energy industry and has progressed more rapidly towards implementation than many other international commitments to support renewable energy which stemmed from Kyoto.

Extensive economic modelling has been conducted to demonstrate that this measure is able to be met in a cost effective manner and offers real benefits to our economy. These are benefits which go beyond simply the achievement of greenhouse gas reductions. An unprecedented amount of effort has been made to involve stakeholders and the public in the development process.

There is no denying that this measure has itself been a challenge to bring to this stage. Developing answers to the questions of: what does the target mean; how will the liable parties be identified; and what is the best way to implement the measure itself took a technical working group close to 15 months. Working with the States and finalising the measure within the federal government took a further 5 months. Of this two year timeframe, many months have been dedicated to seeking community and industry feedback. Many refinements were made to the implementation options to make the measure more achievable, more cost-effective and more industry-friendly—and the government thanks the community for the time and effort involved in providing input to the development of this measure.

Despite this, some industry groups continue to oppose its introduction. However, the support expressed for this target from other areas of the community, not just the renewable energy industry, demonstrates that the people of Australia value efforts made to increase the environmental `friendliness' of our electricity supply.

While this measure imposes new obligations on purchasers of large amounts of electricity, industry will not be alone in meeting the obligations of this target.

The government has committed almost $1 billion towards greenhouse gas abatement measures—up to $362 million of which is directly aimed at supporting the renewable energy industry. This funding is predominantly directed towards competitive grants programs and rebate schemes, giving renewable energies the extra push that they need to become commercially competitive, both on a large and smaller (domestic) scale. These programs will result in many new installations of leading edge technologies, the advancement of a range of pre-commercial technologies and bring renewable energy generation to the people, through direct rebates for installations of renewable energy systems.

This supply side push, combined with the demand side pull of this measure, provides a comprehensive package to support the development of Australia's renewable energy industry and the achievement of the measure's multiple objectives of:

accelerating the uptake of renewable energy in grid-based applications, so as to reduce greenhouse gas emissions;

providing an on-going base for the development of commercially competitive renewable energy, as part of the broader strategic package to stimulate renewables; and

contributing to the development of internationally competitive industries which could participate effectively in overseas energy markets.

This measure has already had an impact. Ever since the announcement of the final design parameters for the measure in November 1999, there has been an unprecedented amount of activity in renewable energy project development. So much so that there is even talk of manufacturing wind turbines domestically - a previously unthought of possibility.

There has been, and will continue to be, excitement in the industry. More and more projects are making it to the drawing board. Of the estimated 3,000 megawatt capacity required to meet the target, hundreds of megawatts are already in the proposal stage - all before the first year of the target.

This is what demonstrates that Australia is ready for this challenge. Not only will industry be able to meet the target - it is confident it can meet it.

And what else does this mean for Australia? It means jobs, particularly in regional areas.

In quantifying the likely impact of the measure as part of designing the most appropriate implementation mechanism, the government has dedicated considerable resources towards projecting the likely mix of renewable energy technologies which will meet the target. The resource with the most potential appears to be biomass - biomass from sources such as sugar cane wastes (or bagasse), sawmill wastes, woody weeds, plantation forestry and specifically grown energy crops.

It is these fuel sources that are found in our regional areas rather than our cities. It is the farming of these crops that supports our country towns and the people in them. This measure adds additional value to these products, above that which was previously there and flows life back into rural Australia.

And all while helping the country meet its environmental targets.

The target will not be met by biomass alone, however. While this will make a low cost contribution towards meeting the target, the other, high tech and more costly technologies will not miss out. Particularly in areas which are not connected to the major grids, solar technologies offer electricity generation capabilities with low maintenance requirements and long working lives. In comparison to extending the grid to regional areas, or constantly trucking in diesel or oil for fuel, solar technologies can offer the most logical solution to the energy needs of our remote areas.

In combination with the rebates of up to $8,250 offered by this government for the installation of photovoltaic electricity generation systems on domestic and community use buildings, the PV industry has a lot to be excited about. The opportunities are there for the taking.

The government would not only like to see biomass and PV respond to this target though. A very broad spectrum of fuel sources have been included as eligible under this measure. This legislation, with its accompanying regulations, will also provide support for wind, ocean technologies, hydro, geothermal, biogases, biomass by-products from a range of industries, solar water heaters and fuel cells using renewable fuels. These can be used on or off grid, in small or large applications

This measure also provides an incentive for the better use of our existing resources. This measure can provide maximum benefit to the economy if we take the necessary steps to use the fuels more efficiently. This may mean upgrades to existing equipment, introduction of new technologies, better storage techniques or faster movement towards co-firing renewables with fossil fuels.

Industry studies have shown that all of these offer significant potential. This potential will be harnessed if it is cost-effective to do so.

The market-based mechanism adopted to meet the target should send strong signals to the most cost-effective renewable energy options and has proven to be widely supported in industry. This legislation sets the broad `rules' for meeting the target, but allows the market to make the selection of the projects which will be supported - and the terms under which they will be supported.

The government has set some boundaries on the cost that it is prepared to see the economy bear in meeting this measure, but with the understanding that if the market works effectively, this cost cap need not be reached. The flexibility provided through a market-based mechanism has shown time and time again that it will find innovative and cost effective solutions to the problem.

This legislation will work by placing the legal responsibility to meet the target on the wholesale purchasers of electricity—the very large electricity purchasers in the country. At the moment this is, and is likely to continue to be, a small group of companies - mostly our electricity retailers and large industrial customers.

It is by virtue of the size of their purchasers that these parties can send signals to the market that renewable energy generation projects must be supported.

This target sends a message to the `large end of town' that we want to see industry lead the way in greenhouse gas reduction. Industry can make a difference - and that difference trickles down to the community.

This legislation supports a good and necessary policy outcome. This legislation provides one of the largest boosts to the renewable energy industry that Australia has ever seen. This legislation will help us chip away at the climate change problem.

In considering this legislation, I ask you to consider the merits of a policy designed to inject more greenhouse friendly fuel sources to our electricity supply mix. I ask you to consider the community's desire to see this target implemented.

I also ask you to consider the great amount of consultation which has been undertaken in developing this legislation and the fact that this legislation meets many of industry's needs, while still supporting Australia's overall greenhouse gas abatement goals of achieving maximum abatement with modest impact on our rate of economic growth and international competitiveness.

I commend this bill.

RENEWABLE ENERGY (ELECTRICITY) (CHARGE) BILL 2000

This bill implements the penalty for non-compliance with the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Bill 2000.

The Renewable Energy (Electricity) Bill 2000 establishes a requirement for wholesale purchasers of electricity to purchase increasing amounts of renewable energy.

Parties who are not able to meet their obligation to secure sufficient renewable energy certificates will be able to elect to pay a shortfall payment to the government. This penalty will be redeemable if the shortfall is made up within three years from the shortfall being incurred.

The government believes that a penalty is essential if businesses are to be encouraged to comply with the legislation. The penalty has been set at a level to support compliance and at the same time impose reasonable limits on the costs faced by businesses.

I commend this bill.

Debate (on motion by Senator Ludwig) adjourned.

Ordered that the Defence Legislation Amendment (Aid to Civilian Authorities) Bill 2000 and the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill (No. 3) 2000 be listed on the Notice Paper as separate orders of the day.