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Wednesday, 26 September 2001
Page: 28050


Senator HILL (Minister for the Environment and Heritage) (9:26 PM) —I table a revised explanatory memorandum relating to the Customs Tariff Amendment Bill (No. 4) 2001 and 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—

JURISDICTION OF THE FEDERAL MAGISTRATES SERVICE LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2001

As members would be aware, the Federal Magistrates Service has been established under the Federal Magistrates Act 1999. The Service began hearing cases on 3 July 2000.

After little more than a year of operation, I am pleased to report that the Federal Magistrates Service is a resounding success, with many thousands of Australians benefiting from its cheaper, simpler and faster court services. I note that this success could not have been achieved without the co-operation and assistance of the Federal Court and the Family Court.

The Federal Magistrates Service was established to deal with a range of less complex federal disputes that were previously handled by the Federal Court or Family Court, as part of the Commonwealth Government's commitment to ensuring that all Australians have a greater range of options for resolving their legal problems as quickly and as cheaply as possible.

The Service has developed procedures that aim to be as streamlined and as user-friendly as possible, reducing delay and costs to litigants.

Much of the work of the Federal Magistrates Service is in family law but the widening jurisdiction of the Federal Court in recent years has led to an increasing number of routine matters coming before that Court. This has had the effect of diverting judicial resources from more complex areas of the law. Having the Federal Magistrates Service deal with less complex cases means a better use of judicial resources and again, less cost for litigants.

The Service currently shares jurisdiction with the Federal Court in administrative law, administrative appeals, bankruptcy, human rights and consumer protection matters.

Many migration matters are of a routine nature and would be suitable for the Service. This bill amends the Migration Act 1958 to give the Federal Magistrates Service concurrent jurisdiction with the Federal Court in migration matters. The bill also amends the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (ADJR Act) and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 (AAT Act) to remove the restrictions on the FMS hearing migration matters under the ADJR Act and hearing appeals in relation to migration matters under the AAT Act.

I believe that it is important to confer a wider general federal law jurisdiction on the Service. The proposed additional jurisdiction in migration matters will be a significant step in broadening the Service's jurisdiction beyond family law matters, which has been the main focus of its work.

The Service is able to resolve cases in 6 months and often in less time. This quick processing of cases will be particularly beneficial in the migration jurisdiction where the workload is increasing.

There is provision in the Federal Magistrates Service legislation for matters to be transferred to the Federal Court (or Family Court where appropriate).This means that more complex matters filed in the Service can be transferred to the Federal Court. Similarly, there are provisions for transfer from the Federal Court to the Federal Magistrates Service of less complex matters within the Service's jurisdiction. The transfer arrangements have been working well for the Federal Court and the Federal Magistrates Service.

Giving jurisdiction to the Service does not add another layer or review as appeals from the Federal Magistrates Service go straight to the Full Court of the relevant court. If the Chief Justice decides it is appropriate in a particular case, a single judge can hear the appeal but that judge is exercising the appellate jurisdiction of the Federal Court.

In conclusion, I note that the Chief Justice of the High Court, the Hon Murray Gleeson, recently acknowledged that the Federal Magistrates Service would have an increasingly important role in the Commonwealth legal system. Given the outstanding success of the Federal Magistrates Service in its first year of operation I am confident that the Chief Justice's prediction will be fulfilled.

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CUSTOMS TARIFF AMENDMENT BILL (No. 4) 2001

Customs Tariff Amendment Bill (No. 4) contains amendments to the Customs Tariff Act 1995 (the Customs Tariff).

Most of these amendments have been contained in Customs Tariff Proposals and now require incorporation in the Customs Tariff. I will briefly outline the major amendments in the bill.

Schedule one of the bill contains administrative amendments to reflect the cessation of the “Administrative Arrangements to the Year 2000 for the Automotive Industry”, on 31 December 2000 and the commencement of the Automotive Competitiveness and Investment Scheme (ACIS) on 1 January 2001.

Schedule three of the bill creates a new item 68 in Schedule four to the Customs Tariff, relating to the SPARTECA (TCF Provisions) Scheme. The new item will allow for certain textiles, clothing and footwear to be imported duty free from Forum Island countries covered by the South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Co-Operation Agreement (SPARTECA).

Schedule four of the bill amends item 17 of Schedule four to the Customs Tariff. Item 17 provides concessional re-entry for imported goods that have been exported from Australia and returned in an unaltered condition. The present amendment to the item introduces a new re-import concession for goods, which, when first imported, utilised duty credit owned under the ACIS.

Schedule 4A amends item 44 of Schedule four of the Customs Tariff.

This amendment creates a new table within the item to define its coverage without the need to refer to other unrelated sections of the Customs Tariff and it will be taken to have commenced on 30 June 2001.

Schedule five of the bill creates a new item 69 in Schedule four to the Customs Tariff to provide for the duty free entry of goods imported into Australia for use in space projects.

The concession will take effect from 1 August 2001. It will only be available to goods imported for use in space projects authorised by the Minister for Industry, Science and Resources.

It will facilitate the transfer to Australia of sophisticated space-related technology and technical expertise.

It is expected to be of significant benefit to companies proposing to establish and develop in Australia operations in the high-technology, high-value added space sector.

Schedule 5A further amends the Table in item 44 to reflect tariff changes that will occur on 1 January 2002.

Schedule six of this bill commences on 1 July 2002. This Schedule creates a new item 70 in Schedule four to the Customs Tariff which combines elements of present items 43 and 52. These items permit the entry into Australia, as a single unit, of goods that, because of their nature or size, have been forwarded to Australia in different shipments. Items 43 and 52 have been amended to introduce a closure date of 30 June 2002. The new item 70 will clarify and streamline the operation of these concessions.

Schedule six of this bill also creates a new item 71 in Schedule four to the Customs Tariff which relates to the new Project By-law Scheme announced in the 2001-2002 budget.

This Schedule also revokes three current items in Schedule four to the Customs Tariff.

The new item 71 will allow goods or components not made in Australia, to be imported duty free for specific projects by specific industry sectors under the new Project By-law Scheme. The date of effect for the new item is 1 July 2002.

The policy objectives of the new item are to:

· Encourage and enhance investment in the establishment of world class operations;

· Encourage the involvement of Australian industry in supplying goods and services;

· Lower input costs for industry where there are sound reasons for doing so; and

· Facilitate Australian industry participation in domestic and international supply chains.

The new Project By-law Scheme will significantly benefit Australian industry and streamline administration processes.

Project proponents will be able to import goods that are not made in Australia, or that are technologically superior, progressively through to the commissioning of the project provided that an Australian industry participation plan is completed giving Australian industry full, fair and reasonable opportunity in supplying the project. This is also in accordance with the principles of the Australian industry participation framework recently announced by Commonwealth, State and Territory Industry Ministers.

In addition, the Project By-law Scheme will be expanded to include goods, such as pipelines and conveyors, and components, which are integral to a project. It also expands the range of industry sectors able to access the Project By-law Scheme to projects in the manufacturing and gas supply sectors as well as the current sectors of mining, resource processing, agriculture, food processing and food packaging.

The changes will boost opportunities for Australian industries by encouraging investment, growth and jobs throughout Australia, including rural and regional areas.

The amendments to items 45, 46 and 56 in Schedule Four to the Customs Tariff introduce a closure date of 31 December 2002 for the utilisation of the concessions under these items. This alteration allows for the efficient termination of the present administrative arrangements, and allows the industry sectors a reasonable period of time to import the duty free capital equipment for which it has received approval under the current Project By-law Scheme.

Items 45 and 46 of Schedule four to the Customs Tariff provide concessional entry for capital equipment not made in Australia to be imported duty free by industries in the mining, resource processing, agriculture, food processing and food packaging sectors for use in approved projects where the total capital expenditure exceeds ten million dollars.

Item 56 of Schedule four to the Customs Tariff provides concessional entry for capital equipment which, in the opinion of the Minister for Justice and Customs, has a substantial and demonstrable performance advantage to be imported duty free by industries in the mining, resource processing, agriculture, food processing, food packaging and some manufacturing sectors for use in approved projects where the total capital expenditure exceeds ten million dollars.

Schedule seven incorporates Senegal in the list of Least Developed Countries in the Customs Tariff. This amendment will provide imports from Senegal with a five percent reduction in the General rate of duty, where applicable

The remaining amendments in the bill are of a technical and minor nature.

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OLYMPIC INSIGNIA PROTECTION AMENDMENT BILL 2001

In April this year, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Sport and Tourism jointly released the Government's new sports policyBacking Australia's Sporting Ability: A More Active Australia. This policy initiative was designed to build on Australia's outstanding sporting achievements of recent years, not only on the fantastic achievements at the Olympic Games but also our world successes in cricket, rugby, netball, tennis, golf, and the list goes on.

This policy builds on the Olympic Athlete Program which produced outstanding results at the Sydney 2000 Olympics with a record haul of 58 medals, including 16 gold. However it goes beyond Olympic sports to assist our best athletes to reach new peaks of excellence by increased support for the athletes, their coaches and other support staff who are involved with competition at the elite level.

The policy also increases the pool of talent from which our future world champions will emerge by encouraging greater participation at the grass roots level. Through the Australian Sports Commission we will be building Active Australia Partnerships with Australian sport and the business sector to deliver new local sporting opportunities including competitions and events. That means more football, netball, tennis, cricket, swimming, basketball and many other sports to many thousands more Australian families.

The result is a sports policy for all Australians, one that supports our elite athletes and also encourages greater community participation in sport, including in rural and regional areas, and especially by young people.

The Government has backed this policy with the necessary funding—we will be injecting an additional $161.6 million into Australian sport over the next 4 years, bringing our total commitment to sport to a record level of close to $550 million.

A key aspect of the Government's sports policy is providing incentives for sporting organisations to deliver sporting excellence through self-sustaining, innovative funding arrangements. This is where this bill fits in.

This bill amends the Olympic Insignia Protection Act 1987 to grant the Australian Olympic Committee ongoing protection for the expressions `Olympic', `Olympic Games' and `Olympiad' against unauthorised commercial use for promotional or advertising purposes. These are referred to in this bill as the `protected Olympic expressions'.

The overall objective of this bill is to help the Australian Olympic Committee—the AOC—generate greater levels of sponsorship revenue from the private sector to fund its Olympic programs by licensing the protected Olympic expressions for commercial use in advertising and promotions. This adds to the support of sport given by the Government and allows the Government funding at the elite level to go beyond Olympic sports.

This bill supports the AOC's special capacity to raise revenue to support the Australian Olympic team's efforts in all future Olympic events. It will help Australia's athletes and support organisations to build on the extraordinary success of the Sydney Games.

The AOC is a unique organisation. It is the body recognised by the International Olympic Committee—the IOC—as the Australian National Olympic Committee. As such, the AOC is responsible for the protection and development of the Olympic Movement in this country, as well as the promotion of its goals and principles. Importantly, as Australia's National Olympic Committee, the AOC has sole responsibility for selecting the members of Australian Olympic teams under the IOC Olympic Charter.

The AOC's fundraising efforts complement the Government's own funding of sport, particularly in the area of elite sport, anti-doping programs and, of course, Olympics participation. This is illustrated by the significant financial support the AOC provides to National Sporting Organisations. Without the AOC's efforts in this regard it is likely that the call on Government funds to support elite sporting objectives, especially for Olympic Games participation, would be significantly greater than is currently the case.

This bill will further improve the AOC's fundraising capabilities by providing greater protection against ambush marketing—that dubious marketing practice of associating a business with a high profile event without paying the fee to become an official sponsor. The value of the sponsorship and licensing arrangements the AOC is able to secure is directly influenced by the level of certainty it can provide to prospective sponsors regarding the exclusive nature of these arrangements. This bill will increase the level of certainty by making it easier for the AOC to take action against unauthorised commercial use of the words `Olympic', `Olympic Games' and `Olympiad'.

The Government is mindful, however, of the need to protect the interests of third parties. We recognise that the words form a part of our common language and this bill is not intended to prevent their general use. Also included in the legislation are specific provisions clarifying that use of the Olympic expressions for the purposes of criticism, review and the provision of information will not contravene the amended Olympic Insignia Protection Act.

Moreover, it is clear that in today's sophisticated marketing environment there will be many, many avenues that will enable people to refer to their Olympic involvement in advertising or promotion without actually having to use a protected Olympic expression. For example, references to the `Sydney Games', the `Beijing Games', and the `2000 Games' all clearly refer to the Olympic Games and are not restricted by this legislation. I would also like to stress that the word `Olympian' is not protected by this legislation and that this is specifically mentioned in the bill.

The bill protects the interests of Olympians in that it provides a specific exemption enabling them, or their commercial sponsors, to use the protected Olympic expressions to make factual statements about their Olympic achievements in any promotion or advertising context, provided the statement does not suggest an ongoing sponsorship of the Olympic movement.

This exemption is of particular importance, because the Government recognises the financial sacrifices that many athletes and teams have to make to compete at an elite level in their sport. Their ability to gain sponsorship and to market themselves as `Olympic gold medallists' or `Olympic athletes' gives some financial recognition and reward for the years of hard work. Not all athletes and teams will have the sponsorship or marketing opportunities of someone like Ian Thorpe, for example, and it is these lower profile athletes, in particular, that are most likely to need to use the expressions for sponsorship or marketing purposes.

The bill also provides a similar exemption for National Sporting Organisations, the Australian Sports Commission, which includes the Australian Institute of Sport, and State and Territory sports institutes and academies. These organisations play a pivotal role in the training and development of our elite athletes and the Government is keen to ensure that they are able to continue their legitimate fundraising and promotional activities. I am pleased to note that the AOC has already concluded a memorandum of understanding with the Sports Commission regarding the use of the protected Olympic expressions to ensure that both the objectives of the Sports Commission and the AOC are maximised.

A further exemption in the bill relates to coaches, physiotherapists and other non-athlete members of an Olympic Team who have assisted an Olympian at an Olympic event. These parties will be able to use the protected Olympic expressions in factual statements about that assistance in the promotion of their own similar services.

It must be noted that this bill is not intended to affect business opportunities that may arise as a result of an Olympic involvement. Staging the 2000 Olympic Games in Australia has created significant opportunities for Australian business and the Government is committed to assisting industry in capitalising on these opportunities.

Those who have supplied goods or services to a past Olympic Games will be able to use the protected Olympic expressions in factual statements about that supply in promotions of their similar goods or services. This exemption complements other Government initiatives designed to make the most of the positive publicity from the Sydney Games. Of particular note in this regard is Austrade's recently announced Reflection Sydney 2000 Games program, which will showcase the companies that helped to stage the Sydney Games.

This is particularly important in the context of the Government's Game Plan 2006 - Sport and Leisure Industry Strategic National Plan. A key objective of Game Plan is an export target of $1.3 billion by 2006. Sport and leisure companies will be able to market their intention to bid for supply of their world class goods and services to future Olympic Games—as long as it is clear there is no ongoing sponsorship association with the Olympic movement. I would add that this type of prospective use of the Olympic expressions would also be available to athletes, teams and support organisations.

I would emphasise, however, that the legislation will not override any commercial arrangements or contracts relating to the use of the protected Olympic expressions.

As well as the obvious tourism boost, the Olympics have provided other benefits. For example, the impressive Sydney International Regatta Centre will be a lasting legacy for the people of Western Sydney. It regularly attracts over 40,000 visitors per month and was the site of the recent 2001 Australian Masters Rowing Championships.

A specific exemption will not, however, apply to venues that have hosted an official Olympic event. Generally the purpose of this legislation is not to prevent the use of the protected Olympic expressions in place names or addresses in promotions of commercial activity—as long as that use does not suggest an association with the Olympic movement. This means that Olympic venues can market themselves as they seek to utilise their world class facilities in hosting other events in the post-Olympics environment. However, if venue managements wish to use a protected Olympic expression to suggest an Olympic involvement then, quite rightly, they would need to reach an agreement with the AOC.

Certain existing legal rights to use the protected Olympic expressions will continue unaffected—this means, for example, that a business name which includes the word `Olympic' can still trade under that name, unaffected by this bill.

However, if a business name or a trade mark or design includes a protected Olympic expression and has a registration date from today onwards, or a company name incorporating a protected Olympic expression was used today or after today in relation to a business, the owner of the registration or company name will need to ensure that its use does not contravene the provisions of this bill. That is, it must not be used in an advertising or promotion type activity in a manner that would suggest a sponsorship association with the Olympic movement without the AOC's authorisation.

To ensure the smooth implementation of this legislation over the long term, the Government intends to undertake an evaluation of its effectiveness immediately after the 2004 Olympic Games. The review will identify any fine-tuning necessary to ensure that the legislation meets the Government's objectives without impacting on the legitimate rights of third parties.

The attainment of sporting excellence is a national priority. This is well illustrated by the Australian public's response to the Sydney Olympic Games. The Government is committed to a sports policy that continues to deliver the kind of world class sporting performances that we are becoming used to seeing from our elite athletes. The AOC, because of its special association with the preparation of Olympic athletes and the administration of Olympic-related competition in this country, is a major contributor to the achievements of Australian sportsmen and women. The measures included in this bill will help ensure that Australia's current high status as an Olympic competitor is enhanced and that Australia's position as a supporter of the world Olympic movement is also protected and extended.

This bill strikes the right balance between ensuring the AOC is able to support Australia's Olympic efforts and enabling our Olympic athletes, teams, support organisations and other sporting interests to attract valuable sponsorships to further the development of sport in Australia.

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MOTOR VEHICLE STANDARDS AMENDMENT BILL 2001

The Motor Vehicle Standards Amendment Bill 2001 amends the legislative framework to enable new arrangements to apply for the importation and supply to the market in Australia of low volume road motor vehicles, including motor cycles. These vehicles are known as specialist and enthusiast vehicles. The bill is the result of the Government's decisions announced on 8 May 2000 following a Review of the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989. The decisions aim to balance the Government's commitment to the local automotive manufacturing industry, full volume importers, franchised motor vehicle dealers, importers and converters of used vehicles, and consumers of genuine specialist and enthusiast vehicles. The decisions include revised eligibility criteria for vehicles being imported under the Low Volume Scheme and the establishment of a registered workshop arrangement for the importation and supply of used vehicles to the market. The registered workshop arrangement will operate on a cost recovery basis. It will improve consumer protection for purchasers of used imported vehicles.

To allow existing approval holders to prepare for the introduction of the new arrangements a generous transition period has been agreed. The bill makes provision for regulations to enable termination of approvals issued under the existing approval arrangements. Vehicles which remain eligible, may continue to be supplied to the market either under the existing Low Volume Scheme approvals or under the Registered Automotive Workshop Scheme until a full changeover in May 2003.

Specialist and enthusiast vehicles are currently imported under the Low Volume Scheme in limited numbers. This scheme makes vehicles available to enthusiasts that may otherwise not be marketed due to the need to amortise over a small number of vehicles the high costs associated with normal certification requirements, for which vehicle manufacturers must demonstrate full compliance with the Australian Design Rules. Under the Low Volume Scheme the cost of certification is reduced by offering a concession against some Australian Design Rules by allowing alternative procedures to those specified to demonstrate compliance. Because of this concession, the scheme does not offer the same high level of assurance of compliance as does the Full Volume Scheme used for vehicles supplied in unlimited numbers. Vehicles imported under the Low Volume Scheme are also exempt from the $12,000 special duty which is payable on used passenger motor vehicles imported in full volume.

The Government decided that, from 8 May 2000, new applications for approval to import a used vehicle under the Low Volume Scheme would be assessed against tightened and more clearly defined eligibility criteria to ensure that eligible vehicles cater for genuine specialist and enthusiast interests. The new eligibility criteria are currently being applied administratively. The bill allows regulations to be made that provide for the Minister to keep a register of specialist and enthusiast vehicles, set specific criteria and other procedures.

The changes made by this bill are intended to return the Low Volume Scheme to its original intent of catering for the importation of genuine specialist and enthusiast vehicles and to prevent unchecked growth in the importation of used vehicles that are very similar to vehicles already marketed in full volume. Under the revised arrangements, vehicles with diesel engines or high-powered engines, for example turbo-charged, would not in their own right be considered a different model for the purpose of determining eligibility as a specialist and enthusiast vehicle. However, special recognition has been given to the needs of primary producers in allowing four wheel drive vehicles with open tray load areas to be eligible. To assist the viability of the new arrangements, the number of eligible passenger motor vehicles that can be supplied to the market by individual approval holders will increase from 25 to 100 vehicles per year.

The Government has also decided to introduce a vehicle by vehicle inspection and approval regime for eligible used specialist and enthusiast vehicles involving registered workshops. This is to be known as the Registered Automotive Workshop Scheme. The Review found that the current system of approval of a vehicle of a particular make and model or `type' was inappropriate for used vehicles. This is because the testing and inspection of a single used vehicle may not be representative of all vehicles of that model. The change will increase the level of assurance that used vehicles being supplied to the market for the first time, comply with the Australian Design Rules in place at the time the vehicle was built.

Carryover of vehicle test evidence to the Registered Automotive Workshop Scheme will be accepted where the evidence can be authenticated and the evidence is representative of vehicles currently being supplied to the market.

The bill provides that a Registered Automotive Workshop will need to meet criteria set out in regulations. The criteria will include the requirement for ISO9001 quality management system certification of the workshop, which will improve the integrity of the trade. Under the new scheme only an incorporated Registered Automotive Workshop will be able to import eligible specialist and enthusiast used vehicles, including used motorcycles. A Registered Automotive Workshop will not be able to be connected/related to another Registered Automotive Workshop. Vehicles will be plated with a used import plate, and the workshop will be required to issue consumer information for each vehicle. The information provided will ensure consumers are aware they are purchasing a used imported vehicle, and also that service and replacements parts may not be available from the recognised franchised dealer for the make of vehicle. In addition, workshops will also be responsible for vehicle recalls. This will require the workshop to identify vehicles which may have a safety defect, advertise or write to owners, and rectify the safety defect free of charge.

The Registered Automotive Workshop Scheme will be funded on a cost recovery basis. A fee will be payable on application for approval to become a Registered Automotive Workshop and a range of other fees will apply including an application to import a vehicle, fitting a used import plate, and adding a new model to the schedule. In setting the fees, particular care has been taken to cater for the operators who import and supply only a small number of specialist and enthusiast vehicles each year. Their concerns have been addressed by applying a relatively small up-front fee and raising the remainder of the cost from a per vehicle plate fee. A new section is included in the bill to provide the Minister with the necessary powers to implement the scheme. The schedule of fees and other procedures will be set out in regulations.

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TRANSPORT AND REGIONAL SERVICES LEGISLATION (APPLICATION OF CRIMINAL CODE) BILL 2001

The Transport and Regional Services Legislation Amendment (Application of Criminal Code) Bill 2001 amends certain offence provisions, in legislation within the Transport and Regional Services portfolio, to reflect the application of Chapter 2 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (the Criminal Code) to all Commonwealth offences from 15 December 2001.

For reasons of convenience, the bill also includes proposed amendments to the Australian Antarctic Territory Act 1954 and the Heard Island and McDonald Islands Act 1953 administered by the Minister for the Environment and Heritage.

Subject to several exceptions, where the penalty attached to existing offences of strict liability is reduced in order to comply with Criminal Code policy, the bill does not affect the current operation of existing criminal offences. Rather, it seeks to ensure that the existing criminal offences are not altered following the application of the Criminal Code.

The bill provides for amendments that specify whether an offence is one of strict liability. In the absence of such an amendment, offences that were previously interpreted as strict liability, would be interpreted as not being of strict liability. In addition, the bill provides for amendments that restate any defences to an offence separately from the physical elements of the offence. This amendment is necessary to ensure that the defence is not mistakenly interpreted to be an element of the offence that must be proved by the prosecution. The bill also provides for amendments to:

1. recognise that the Criminal Code does not apply to applied State and Territory offence provisions;

2. recognise the application (in whole or in part) of the Criminal Code;

3. clarify the physical elements of an offence and the corresponding fault elements;

4. identify the evidential or legal burden in relation to a defence;

5. repeal offence provisions that are general offences in the Criminal Code;

6. ensure that the meaning of the phrase engage in conduct includes omissions; and

7. replace references to provisions in the Crimes Act 1914 with references to corresponding provisions in the Criminal Code.

The bill also exempts the Road Transport Reform (Dangerous Goods) Act 1995, the Road Transport Reform (Heavy Vehicles Registration) Act 1997, and the Road Transport Reform (Vehicles and Traffic) Act 1993 from the application of the Criminal Code. These Acts have been exempted because they were passed under a cooperative scheme relating to road transport existing between the Commonwealth and the States and Territories. As a consequence of the terms of the scheme these Acts can only be amended on the basis of a recommendation from the National Road Transport Commission (NRTC) and subsequent approval from the Australian Transport Council (ATC). The exemption is not to be permanent. The Commonwealth will refer the question of amending the legislation so that it is Criminal Code compliant to the NRTC immediately to be pursued through the workings of the ATC.

The bill does not change the existing criminal law. Rather, it ensures that the current law is maintained following application of the Criminal Code to Commonwealth legislation.

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ABOLITION OF COMPULSORY AGE RETIREMENT (STATUTORY OFFICEHOLDERS) BILL 2001

The Abolition of Compulsory Age Retirement (Statutory Officeholders) Bill 2001 proposes to abolish legislative provisions in Commonwealth Acts that set compulsory retirement age limits, commonly 65 years, for statutory office holders.

If enacted, it will significantly enhance the ability of statutory appointees to continue to serve the community beyond the usual retirement age.

One of the most important challenges facing Australia in the coming years will be retaining the experience and expertise of older Australians in the workforce.

This Government places great importance upon the economic and social contribution that older Australians can play in our community in a wide range of activities.

It is also committed to ensuring that the expertise of older Australians is not unnecessarily lost to the community.

A large part of this contribution will depend upon ensuring that older Australians are able to participate or continue to participate in the workforce.

Statutory office holders are selected on the basis of their specialist expertise or knowledge of a particular issue.

If this Bill is passed, it will mean that people above the age of 65 will be able to be considered for appointment to Commonwealth statutory positions or will be able to continue their important contribution to the Australian community past that age.

These amendments will provide greater flexibility and choice not only to the Government in selecting potential appointees but also to the office-holders themselves.

It will assist in changing attitudes about the abilities of older workers and will remove artificial and archaic boundaries between work and retirement.

The repeal of retirement age limit provisions also brings statutory office holders into line with staff in the Australian Public Service.

Following the enactment of the Public Service Act 1999, there is no longer a compulsory retirement age for public servants.

Constitutional limitations prevent the abolition of retirement age provisions for High Court judges (currently 70 years).

It is not proposed to amend the retirement age provision for judges of other federal courts.

Furthermore, the Bill does not propose to alter a range of age based restrictions relating to Australian Defence Force personnel.

These restrictions are primarily based on considerations of operational effectiveness.

The Bill will also not affect those few office holders appointed with tenure until a certain age, as to remove age limits on these office holders would, inappropriately, create positions with life tenure.

The Bill will have little, if any, financial impact.

The Bill reflects this Government's commitment to providing greater flexibility and choice to older Australians.

It is also an important recognition of the valuable role older Australians can play in serving the Australian community through a variety of statutory positions.

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CYBERCRIME BILL 2001

More than 3 million Australian households and over 1 billion people worldwide are connected to the Internet. With the exponential growth in the Internet population and in electronic commerce over the last decade, the integrity, security and reliability of computer data and electronic communication is becoming increasingly important. Cybercrime activities, including hacking, virus propagation, denial of service attacks and website vandalism, pose a significant threat to the integrity and security of computer data. Indeed, according to recent estimates, cybercrime is costing companies worldwide approximately 3 trillion dollars a year.

Updated laws are vital if authorities are to effectively detect, investigate and prosecute cybercrime activities. The proposed new computer offences and investigation powers in this bill are a significant development in the fight against these activities and will place Australia at the forefront of international efforts to address the issue of cybercrime.

Computer Offences

The Cybercrime Bill 2001 proposes the enactment of seven new computer offences. The offences are based on the recommendations of the January 2001 Model Criminal Code Damage and Computer Offences Report developed with the cooperation of the Commonwealth, States and Territories. Implementation of the Model Criminal Code offences is an important step toward achieving national consistency and remedying deficiencies in the existing laws. The new updated offences would replace the existing offences in the Crimes Act, which, although only 10 years old, are already seriously outdated.

All the proposed offences are supported by extended extra-territorial jurisdiction in recognition of the fact that computer crime is often perpetrated remotely from where it has effect. The proposed offences have been drafted in technology-neutral terms. The offences also dove-tail with the terminology of the Electronic Transactions Act 1999, which has been an important vehicle for expanding electronic commerce.

The first offence in the bill targets those who access or modify computer data or impair electronic communications to or from a computer that they are not authorised to access, modify or impair and who do so with the intention of committing a serious offence punishable by 5 or more years imprisonment. The offence would attract a maximum penalty equal to the maximum penalty for the serious offence. For example, if a person hacked into a bank computer and accessed credit card details with the intention of using them to obtain money, the penalty would be equivalent to the fraud offence the person was intending to commit (10 years imprisonment).

It would be an offence for a person to cause any unauthorised modification of data in a computer where the person is reckless as to whether that modification will impair data. A maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment would apply. The offence covers a range of situations including a hacker who obtains unauthorised access to a computer system and impairs data and a person who circulates a disk containing a computer virus which infects a Commonwealth computer.

The bill proposes an offence of causing an unauthorised impairment of electronic communications to or from a computer, carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. This offence is particularly designed to prohibit tactics such as `denial of service attacks', where a web site is inundated with a large volume of unwanted messages thus crashing the computer server. The penalty for this offence recognises the importance of computer-facilitated communication and the considerable damage that can result if that communication is impaired.

The proposed offence of causing unauthorised access to or modification of restricted data held in a computer carries a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment. The offence relates only to unauthorised access or modification of data that is protected by a password or other security feature rather than any data. The offence will target those who hack into a password-protected computer system in order to access personal or commercial information or alter that information.

The bill proposes an offence of causing unauthorised impairment of the reliability, security or operation of any data held on a Commonwealth computer disk or credit card or other device. A maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment would apply. This offence is particularly designed to cover impairment of data caused by actions such as passing a magnet over a credit card or cutting a computer disk in half.

Lastly, the bill proposes two offences relating to the possession and supply of data or programs that are intended for use in the commission of a computer offence. Each offence would attract a maximum penalty of 3 years imprisonment. These offences are designed to cover persons who possess or trade in programs and technology designed to hack into or damage other people's computer systems. For example, a person will commit an offence if he or she possesses a hacking program or a disk containing a computer virus with the intention of using it to access or damage data.

Investigation Powers

The bill will enhance the criminal investigation powers in the Crimes Act 1914 and Customs Act 1901 relating to the search, seizure and copying of electronically stored data. The large amounts of data which can be stored on computer drives and disks and the complex security measures, such as encryption and passwords, which can be used to protect that information present particular problems for investigators. The proposed enhancement of search and seizure powers will assist law enforcement officers in surmounting those problems.

The proposed amendments would clarify that a search warrant can be used to access data that is accessible from, but not held on, electronic equipment at the search premises. As most business computers are networked to other desktop computers and to central storage computers, it is critical that law enforcement officers executing a search warrant are able to search not only material on computers located on the search premises but also material accessible from those computers but located elsewhere.

Computer equipment and disks would be able to be examined and processed off-site if this is significantly more practicable than processing them on-site. The proposed amendment recognises that searching computers and disks can be a difficult and time-consuming exercise because of the large amount of information they can store and the application of security measures such as encryption. A further proposed amendment would permit officers to copy all data held on a computer hard drive or data storage device where some of the data is evidential material or if there are reasonable grounds to suspect the data contains evidential material.

A magistrate would be able to order a person with knowledge of a computer system to provide such information or assistance as is necessary and reasonable to enable the officer to access, copy or print data. Such a power is contained in the draft Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime and will assist officers in gaining access to encrypted information.

Conclusion

The high speed and broad reach of computer technology offers new means, methods and possibilities for crime. The measures contained in the Cybercrime Bill are vital to protecting the security, reliability and integrity of computer data and electronic communications and remedying the deficiencies in existing laws. By addressing the threats posed by cybercrime activities, the bill will strengthen community confidence in the use of new technology and provide a means of ensuring that the benefits of that technology are not comprised by crime.

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TAXATION LAWS AMENDMENT BILL (No. 5) 2001

This bill makes amendments to the income tax law and fringe benefits tax law to give effect to the following measures.

Firstly, taxation treatment of religious practitioners under the new tax system will be clarified. Under the existing law, the tax treatment of religious practitioners has been unclear because the Courts have reached different conclusions about whether different religious practitioners are common law employees or not.

To remove this uncertainty, religious practitioners who are performing activities in pursuit of a vocation as a religious practitioner, and as a member of a religious institution, will not need to apply for an ABN or to register for GST for these activities. They will not be subject to withholding for failure to provide an ABN. The normal PAYG withholding arrangements that apply to employees and office holders will apply to religious practitioners.

Benefits provided to religious practitioners by a religious institution for the performance of pastoral or related duties will continue to be exempt from fringe benefits tax.

Secondly, this bill amends the income tax law and the superannuation surcharge legislation to facilitate the change in status of constitutionally protected superannuation funds that elect to become taxed superannuation funds. The amendments will ensure that members of constitutionally protected superannuation funds which have changed status are treated similarly for income tax and superannuation surcharge purposes with members who roll-over benefits from an untaxed source to a taxed source.

The third measure amends the income tax law to provide broadly comparable capital gains tax outcomes for investors in managed funds as that given to investors who choose to invest directly, when it comes to the treatment of the capital gains tax discount under the capital gains tax law. The Government is introducing this measure to remove a tax distortion in investment choices for investors, and to allow these investors to receive the full benefits of the capital gains tax discount.

The amendments include a transitional measure to ensure that the capital gains tax provisions do not adversely affect investments through a chain of trusts. The amendments apply to payments made on or after 1 July 2001, with the transitional measures applying from the commencement of the capital gains tax discount rules, 21 September 1999.

Similarly, direct investors who receive building allowance deductions will be subject to the same capital gains tax rules as beneficiaries who receive building allowance deductions via a trust.

The bill will ensure that non-profit societies and associations established to develop Australian information and communications technology resources are exempt from income tax and also qualify for a fringe benefits tax rebate.

A rebate from fringe benefits tax will also be provided to employers who are non-profit societies or associations established to develop Australian aquaculture and fishing resources.

The bill will also give deductible gift recipient status to a number of organisations. This will ensure an income tax deduction is allowed to the donor for certain gifts to the value of $2 or more.

Full details of the measures in the bill are contained in the explanatory memorandum.

I commend the bill.

Debate (on motion by Senator O'Brien) adjourned.

Ordered that the bills be listed on the Notice Paper as separate orders of the day.

Ordered that the resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for a later hour of the day.