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Monday, 21 October 2002
Page: 5495


Senator IAN CAMPBELL (Manager of Government Business in the Senate) (3:55 PM) —I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:

That the provisions of paragraphs (5) to (7) of standing order 111 not apply to the following bills, allowing them to be considered during this period of sittings:

Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2002

Broadcasting Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2002

Egg Industry Service Provision Bill 2002

Egg Industry Service Provision (Transitional and Consequential Provisions) Bill 2002

Excise Laws Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2002

Excise Tariff Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2002

Excise Tariff Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2002

Customs Tariff Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2002

Family and Community Services Legislation Amendment (Budget Initiatives and Other Measures) Bill 2002

Inspector-General of Taxation Bill 2002

Insurance and Aviation Liability Legislation Amendment Bill 2002.

I also table statements of reasons justifying the need for these bills to be considered during these sittings and seek leave to have the statements incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The statements read as follows

ABORIGINAL LAND RIGHTS (NORTHERN TERRITORY) AMENDMENT BILL 2002

Purpose of the Bill

The Bill will add five parcels of land to Schedule 1 of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976.

Reasons for Urgency

One parcel of land which is the subject of the Bill lies in the area of Harry Creek East in the Northern Territory. Passage of the Bill would enable traditional owners, the Harry Creek East community, to relocate to that land and hold it as freehold title.

Seven families, representing 35 people belonging to the Harry Creek East community, will be unable to utilise the land they currently occupy, because that land lies on the site of the proposed Darwin to Alice Springs Railway. The timetable for construction of this railway is running significantly ahead of schedule and the early commencement of clearing and associated structural work was not envisaged at the time the Bill was introduced.

Clearing equipment for construction of the railway, including bulldozers, has already arrived on the site. The next stage of construction will be to clear and compact an area for the pile driver, prior to commencement of work for the bridge foundations. This will threaten the only water supply available to the community, namely bore water, and will pose serious health and safety risks to members of the community.

Passage of the Bill will enable a grant to the community of freehold title to the land at Harry Creek East, which will be necessary for the construction of appropriate long term housing to proceed on that land for the benefit of the community. It is desirable that the Bill be passed as soon as possible to minimise the health and safety risks to those members of the community who utilise the land which is now the railway construction site.

(Circulated By Authority Of The Minister For Immigration And Multicultural And Indigenous Affairs)

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BROADCASTING LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL (No. 1) 2002

Purpose of the Bill

This Bill is intended to delay the introduction of high definition television (HDTV) quotas in mainland State capitals until 1 July 2003.

Reasons for Urgency

Commercial free-to-air broadcasters in mainland State capitals are currently required by law to commence broadcasting at least 20 hours per week in high definition digital TV (HDTV) format from 1 January 2003. It is proposed to delay the commencement date for the 20 hour per week HDTV quota obligations on these broadcasters by six months. This is a holding action to be put in place while the Government considers possible changes to the digital television and datacasting regime, both to add new flexibility to the HD quota obligations, and to encourage consumer take-up of digital equipment. It is necessary in order to avoid short term compliance problems because although the HD quota obligations take effect in these areas on 1 January 2003, it is likely that there will be insufficient time for introduction and passage of any possible broader legislative changes to the regime before that date.

(Circulated by authority of the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts)

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EGG INDUSTRY SERVICE PROVISION BILL 2002

EGG INDUSTRY SERVICE PROVISION (TRANSITIONAL AND CONSEQUENTIAL PROVISIONS) BILL 2002

Purpose of the Bills

The Egg Industry Service Provision Bill will provide for a company limited by guarantee under the Corporations Act to be declared as the industry services body. The company will undertake industry service provision, including new statutory levy funded generic promotional activities and delivery of the egg industry's research and development (R&D) needs.

The Egg Industry Service Provision (Transitional and Consequential Provisions) Bill will provide for the transfer of assets and liabilities associated with the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation egg R&D programme to the declared industry services body.

Reasons for Urgency

The egg industry has undergone a difficult period since deregulation of the state marketing arrangements. The Newcastle disease outbreak, increasing pressure from the retail sector, declining egg consumption due to perceived health implications and animal welfare concerns have all contributed to a significant decline in profitability and the number of producers. Those producers who remain are looking as an industry to address key determinants of the future profitability of their businesses.

The Australian Egg Industry Association, the industry's national representative body, resolved in late-2000 to establish a new structure that could respond quickly and decisively to the pressures on the industry. The Association consulted widely on the proposal between April and September 2001 and an industry vote revealed widespread support for a new company and promotional levy.

A common theme throughout industry meetings was the urgency for change. The industry would be extremely disappointed if the new arrangements were not implemented by the target date of 1 January 2003. All necessary transitional arrangements will have been made by then and financed on that basis. Given that the company will take at least six months to generate results for the industry, consideration of the Bills over more than one sitting will only serve to extend the period of pressure for producers. On this basis, it is imperative that the Bills are introduced and passed in the Spring sittings.

(Circulated by authority of the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry)

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EXCISE LAWS AMENDMENT BILL (No. 1) 2002

EXCISE TARIFF AMENDMENT BILL (No. 2) 2002

Purpose of the Bills

The Bills will implement the Budget announcement to impose excise on the higher of the actual or labelled alcoholic strength of excisable beverages.

Reasons for Urgency

The alcohol labelling and excise payment measure is retrospective to the time of the announcement, 14 May 2002, and it is desirable to provide certainty to affected taxpayers.

(Circulated by authority of the Treasurer)

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EXCISE TARIFF AMENDMENT BILL (No. 1) 2002

CUSTOMS TARIFF AMENDMENT BILL (No. 2) 2002

Purpose of the Bills

The bills will incorporate into the Excise Tariff Act 1921 and the Customs Tariff Act 1995 all Excise and Customs Tariff Proposals currently tabled in Parliament including:

· Excise Tariff Proposal No. 1 (2002)—Diesel/Water Blends;

· Excise Tariff Proposal No. 2 (2002) and Customs Tariff Proposal No. 1 (2002)— Product Stewardship Oil Exemptions; and

· Excise Tariff Proposal No. 3 (2002) and Customs Tariff Proposal No. 2 (2002)—low alcohol beer excise reduction.

The bills will also amend the Excise Tariff Act 1921 and the Customs Tariff Act 1995 to remove the application of indexation provisions from the Product Stewardship Oil levy.

Reasons for Urgency

Enactment of the bills prior to 1 February 2003 is required to avoid further indexation taking effect on the Product Stewardship Oil levy. Further, Excise Tariff Proposal No. 1 (2002) must be validated within 12 months of the date of tabling which is 20 February 2003.

(Circulated by authority of the Treasurer and the Minister for Justice and Customs)

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FAMILY AND COMMUNITY SERVICES LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (BUDGET INITIATIVES AND OTHER MEASURES) BILL 2002

Purpose of the Bill

The Bill will give effect to a 2002 Budget initiative to clearly set out the duties and obligations of people who act as nominees for social security or family assistance customers. The Bill will also amend the social security law to streamline the process to allow more people caring for certain terminally ill children to qualify for carer payment.

Reasons for Urgency

The Bill needs to be passed in the 2002 Spring Sittings so as to allow finalisation of supporting administration ahead of the proposed 1 July 2003 commencement date for the nominees initiative. Early passage of the Bill will also enable more people caring for certain terminally ill children to qualify for carer payment.

(Circulated by authority of the Minister for Family and Community Services)

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INSPECTOR-GENERAL OF TAXATION BILL 2002

Purpose of the Bill

The Bill establishes the office of the Inspector-General of Taxation as an independent statutory authority. The Inspector-General will provide a new source of advice to the government on tax administration. The Inspector-General will identify systemic issues of concern in tax administration.

Reasons for Urgency

The office of Inspector-General of Taxation is intended to be operational by the end of 2002 and funding was included in the 2002-03 Budget for the establishment of the office.

There is a government commitment and community expectation that the office will be established and operational by the end of 2002. The creation of the office of Inspector-General is a response to serious concerns of taxpayers and tax professionals regarding tax administration. The urgency of the Bill stems from a need to address systemic problems in taxation administration without further delay.

(Circulated by authority of the Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer)

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INSURANCE AND AVIATION LIABILITY LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2002

Purpose of the Bill

The Bill will:

· amend the Damage by Aircraft Act 1999 to exclude passive owners (such as lessors) from liability for damage on the ground;

· amend the Insurance Contracts Act 1984 to allow for the exemption, by regulation, of third party aviation war risk insurance from cancellation provisions; and

· amend the Civil Aviation (Carriers' Liability) Act 1959 to correct an error that imposes a liability on foreign charter operators which is inconsistent with Australia's international obligations.

Reasons for Urgency

The Australian aviation industry (airlines, airports and service providers) is currently facing major difficulties obtaining sufficient third party aviation war risk (terrorism) insurance (ie, principally for damage caused on the ground). In most part, this is a result of the insurance industry taking a highly conservative approach to aviation insurance since the events of 11 September 2001.

The minor amendments proposed to the Damage by Aircraft and Insurance Contracts Acts will remove impediments to Australian aviation enterprises gaining full access to the international insurance market for third party war risk insurance. The amendments will mean that insurers and re-insurers will be able to deal with third party war risk insurance proposals from the Australian aviation industry in the same manner as the rest of the world and are expected to largely resolve the current shortage of cover for most sectors of the industry.

The amendments have the strong support of the Australian aviation industry, as well as Australian-based insurers who expect to be able to access the larger international market in order to meet the demands of local clients.

Since September 2001, the Government has been providing indemnities to cover the difference between the amount of cover commercially available (ranging from zero to an insufficient amount) and that held by aviation enterprises before the terrorist attacks. Passage of the amending legislation is also likely to significantly reduce the number and size of indemnities provided by the Commonwealth.

The opportunity is being taken to propose passage of a minor amendment to the Civil Aviation (Carriers' Liability) Act 1959 in order to correct a long standing minor error.

(Circulated by authority of the Minister for Transport and Regional Services)