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Monday, 21 June 2004
Page: 24398


Senator ELLISON (Minister for Justice and Customs) (8:06 PM) —I table a revised explanatory memorandum relating to the bill and move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

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

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

TREASURY LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS) BILL 2003

The purpose of this bill is to amend the Trade Practices Act 1974 and other relevant Commonwealth legislation to support professional standards laws which are currently in force in New South Wales and Western Australia, and which other jurisdictions are expected to adopt in due course.

Professional standards laws seek to minimise damages claims against professionals through improved professional standards—by requiring risk management strategies, compulsory insurance cover, professional education and appropriate complaints and disciplinary mechanisms—in return for caps on the liability of professionals who are covered by schemes which have been gazetted under the relevant state or territory professional standards law.

It is important to note that this capped liability will only apply to claims for economic loss and not to claims for personal injury and death.

The amendments made by this bill will establish a structure under which the Commonwealth, by prescribing schemes under State or Territory professional standards legislation, can support those laws by allowing liability under the relevant Commonwealth legislative provisions to be capped.

Ultimately this will benefit professionals and consumers alike, as professional standards laws will ensure that professionals hold adequate insurance, and this will serve to protect the interests of the community at large. There is also an unequivocal benefit to consumers flowing from the risk management strategies, professional education and disciplinary procedures embodied in professional standards schemes.

This bill amends three Commonwealth acts: the Trade Practices Act 1974, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 and the Corporations Act 2001.

Amendments to the bill were moved in the debate in the House of Representatives. The amendments clarify the operation of the implied statutory warranty provisions in the Trade Practices Act 1974 and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001. These amendments seek to ensure that state and territory reforms of the law of contract are not undermined.

I commend this bill to the Senate.

Debate (on motion by Senator Crossin) adjourned.

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