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Wednesday, 23 June 2010
Page: 4148


Senator LUDWIG (Manager of Government Business in the Senate) (4:03 PM) —I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:

That the provisions of paragraphs (5) to (8) of standing order 111 not apply to various bills, as set out in the list circulated in the chamber, allowing them to be considered during this period of sittings.

Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code Amendment Bill 2010

Building Energy Efficiency Disclosure Bill 2010

Crimes Amendment (Royal Flying Doctor Service) Bill 2010

Farm Household Support Amendment (Ancillary Benefits) Bill 2010

Food Standards Australia New Zealand Amendment Bill 2010

Higher Education Support Amendment (Indexation) Bill 2010

Immigration (Education) Amendment Bill 2010

Insurance Contracts Amendment Bill 2010

International Monetary Agreements Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2010

Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Amendment Bill 2010

Tax Laws Amendment (2010 Measures No. 3) Bill 2010

Tax Laws Amendment (Confidentiality of Taxpayer Information) Bill 2009

Tax Laws Amendment (Foreign Source Income Deferral) Bill (No. 1) 2010

Trade Practices Amendment (Australian Consumer Law) Bill (No. 2) 2010

Veterans’ Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2009

I 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—

STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR INTRODUCTION AND PASSAGE IN THE 2010 WINTER SITTINGS

CRIMES AMENDMENT (ROYAL FLYING DOCTOR SERVICE) BILL

Purpose of the Bill

The bill makes an urgent, minor amendment to the offence of “causing narcotic substances to be carried by post” in section 85W of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) to create an exception for:

Australia Post and the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) and their officers, employees, agents and contractors, and

Australia Post and bodies or persons prescribed in Regulations (or their employees or others providing services for or on their behalf), who arrange for the supply of medicines to remote locations for the purposes of, and in accordance with, a program prescribed in Regulations. 

The bill will ensure that Australia Post can continue to deliver pharmaceuticals under the “RFDS Medical Chest Program”, enabling emergency treatment to be given to people in rural and remote areas of Australia.  It will also enable this protection to be extended to other prescribed persons or bodies who are supplying medicines to remote communities under a prescribed program of a similar nature.

The bill will have retrospective effect to ensure that Australia Post, the RFDS and other prescribed bodies and persons will not be prosecuted for earlier breaches of section 85W.

Reasons for Urgency

There is an urgent need to allow the RFDS to resume the supply of medicines through Australia Post for the Medical Chest Program.

The RFDS and its agents currently supply and maintain approximately 2,600 Medical Chests across Australia.  Since the discovery of this issue, a high proportion of those in remote areas are depleted or carrying out of date stock.  While the RFDS has adopted the practice of inviting people to travel to a RFDS base and collect resupplies, some locations are too remote for this.  There are no viable alternatives to Australia Post for supplying medicines for the RFDS Medicine Chest Program, as Australia Post is the only delivery provider servicing many remote locations. 

The Government has also become aware that other organisations and programs may require coverage by an exception to the offence.  An urgent amendment will address the risk of emergency medicines not being available to treat serious illness or injury in rural and remote areas of Australia, both under the RFDS’ Medical Chest Program, and programs of a similar nature that may be prescribed in Regulations. 

 (Circulated by authority of the Minister for Home Affairs)

STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR INTRODUCTION AND PASSAGE IN THE 2010 WINTER SITTINGS

HIGHER EDUCATION SUPPORT AMENDMENT (INDEXATION) BILL

Purpose of the Bill

The bill specifies the method of indexation of grants and other amounts under Part 5-6 of the Higher Education Support Act 2003.  The formula specified in the bill gives effect to the recommendation for revised indexation made in the Review of Australian Higher Education and announced by the Government in the 2009-10 Budget.  Under revised indexation arrangements the Safety Net Adjustment labour price index has been replaced by the Professional, Scientific and Technical Services labour price index (discounted by 10 per cent) as published by the Australian Statistician.

The bill provides details of the formula and its components in indexation calculations to be used from 2012.

Reasons for Urgency

This bill needs to be passed by the end of the Winter sittings to give effect to the Government’s commitment for revised indexation, and to provide funding certainty for the sector in planning higher education delivery.   The revised indexation will be used to inform calculations for Additional Estimates September 2010 for forward estimates from 2011-12 for the affected grants and other amounts.

 (Circulated by the authority of the Minister for Education)

STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR INTRODUCTION AND PASSAGE IN THE 2010 WINTER SITTINGS

FOOD STANDARDS AUSTRALIA NEW ZEALAND AMENDMENT BILL

Purpose of the Bill

The bill amends the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991 to achieve the implementation of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed reform which calls for the recognition, for domestically grown produce, by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) residue risk assessment and the promulgation of the resulting maximum residue limits to the Food Standards Code.  This includes consequential amendments to the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Administration) Act 1992 and the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code Act 1994.  The bill also clarifies minor inconsistencies resulting from previous amendments and amends the provisions for annual reporting by FSANZ.

Reasons for Urgency

This reform was agreed to by COAG on 3 July 2008 for implementation by December 2008. Due to the need to resolve some complex issues regarding implementation of this reform, its completion is now overdue. It should be considered urgent as additional delay will create disadvantage for primary producers, who may be in the position of lawfully using a chemical product on their crops or livestock, only to find they are unable to legally sell the produce (plant and animal products) because there is no corresponding maximum residue limit in the Food Standards Code. Every day that the reform is delayed comes at a financial cost to primary producers.

Introduction and passage of the bill in the 2010 Winter sittings is necessary to meet the Commonwealth’s obligations under the National Partnership Agreement to Deliver a Seamless National Economy in relation to implementing this deregulation priority.  On 2 July 2009 COAG agreed that, subject to Commonwealth Government priorities, the required legislative amendments would be made by the Autumn of 2010.

 (Circulated by authority of the Minister for Health and Ageing)

STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR INTRODUCTION AND PASSAGE IN THE 2010 WINTER SITTINGS

SUPERANNUATION INDUSTRY (SUPERVISION) AMENDMENT BILL 2010

Purpose of the Bill

The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (the SIS Act) to address prudential risks associated with superannuation fund investment in limited recourse borrowing arrangements.

Reasons for Urgency

The market for products allowing for superannuation fund investment in limited recourse borrowing arrangements has evolved rapidly since amendments to the SIS Act in 2007 permitted these products.  Uncertainty in the interpretation of the law is allowing product issuers to develop products based on their interpretation, leading to products that impose undesirable conditions that expose fund assets to excessive risk. 

Since the legislation was introduced in 2007, industry stakeholders have been expecting legislative amendments to clarify several points of ambiguity existing in this area.  Industry stakeholders have reiterated this need through the confidential consultation process.

Introduction and passage of the Bill will reduce the risks for superannuation funds investing in limited recourse borrowing arrangements.  Further, it will limit the opportunity for providers to use the delay between introduction and enactment of the Bill to develop products that exploit the issues the Bill is to address.

The Government considers the amendments contained in this Bill require urgent enactment to protect superannuation fund members from excessively risky products and to provide certainty for issuers of limited recourse borrowing arrangements as to the circumstances under which they can offer these products.

 (Circulated by authority of the Minister for Financial Services, Superannuation and Corporate Law)

STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR INTRODUCTION AND PASSAGE IN THE 2010 Winter SITTINGS

TRADE PRACTICES AMENDMENT (AUSTRALIAN CONSUMER LAW) BILL (NO. 2) 2010

Purpose of the Bill

The bill completes the Commonwealth’s implementation of the Australian Consumer Law and makes related amendments.

Reasons for Urgency

The COAG National Partnership Agreement to Deliver a Seamless National Economy (NPA) requires the Commonwealth and each State and Territory to enact legislation to create the ACL by December 2010.

Through the Ministerial Council on Consumer Affairs, States and Territories have advised that they require the Commonwealth legislation to be passed prior to passage of legislation through their parliaments.  Passage of the Commonwealth legislation as soon as possible will give the States and Territories sufficient time to achieve passage of their applicable legislation prior to December 2010.  The States and Territories have advised that if the bill is not passed in the Winter sittings they cannot meet their obligation made under the NPA to pass their laws by 1 January 2011.

 (Circulated by authority of the Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs)

STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR INTRODUCTION AND PASSAGE IN THE 2010 WINTER SITTINGS

INTERNATIONAL MONETARY AGREEMENTS AMENDMENT BILL (NO.1) 2010

Purpose of the Bill

The International Monetary Agreements Act 1947 (IMA Act) established Australia’s membership of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (the World Bank) and makes provisions which allow Australia to meet obligations that may arise by virtue of our membership of these institutions. The current New Arrangements to Borrow (NAB) Decision, dated 27 January 1997, forms Schedule 4 to the Act. This bill proposes an amendment to the IMA Act, including Schedule 4 of the Act, to reflect amendments to the NAB Decision.

The NAB is a voluntary set of credit arrangements between the IMF and a number of its members, including Australia.  The NAB can be activated by participants in order to supplement the IMF’s lending resources when they consider it necessary.  The NAB acts as a backstop arrangement where the IMF’s usual quota processes are insufficient to meet the needs of borrowing member countries. In the event of the IMF drawing on the NAB, the funds would be repaid to Australia in full, with interest.

The proposed amendments to the NAB will allow Australia to contribute to implementation of a G20 Leaders’ commitment, which will ensure that the IMF has the resources necessary to credibly support its members, thereby promoting global confidence and economic recovery.

On 2 April 2009, G20 Leaders committed to an expanded NAB, increased to up to US$550 billion. There was subsequently strong interest from new potential participants, including those outside the G20, and on 24 November 2009 the IMF announced that participants had agreed to expand the NAB to up to US$600 billion. The amendments to the Schedule would authorise the proposed increase in Australia’s existing line of credit under the NAB from SDR 801 million (around A$1.4 billion) to  SDR 4370 million (around A$7.5 billion) under the current appropriation in the IMA Act.

G20 Leaders also committed to a more flexible NAB.  This will better support the Fund in providing substantial financing to its members at short notice, especially during times of crisis.  Flexibility will be achieved by amending the terms of the arrangement to implement a more streamlined procedure to activate the NAB. The terms of the current NAB state that the NAB may only be activated on a loan-by-loan basis. The proposed changes will modify the NAB to allow a general activation for a defined period subject to a maximum level of commitments.

Reasons for Urgency

The expanded and more flexible New Arrangements to Borrow is a part of the G20 Leaders’ global plan for recovery and reform agreed on 2 April 2009 in London.

Following the conclusion of a process of international negotiations, the proposed amendments to expand and make more flexible the current NAB Decision were adopted by the IMF Executive Board on 12 April 2010.  For the amended NAB to enter into effect, its participants will be required to accept the amendments to the NAB Decision; some participants will be required to implement the amendments through domestic legislation change, including Australia.

Urgent implementation of NAB is prudent, particularly in light of the tentative global recovery, as it will support confidence in the markets that the IMF has a credible backstop to its quota resources, and is able to support its members should there be a need.

 (Circulated by authority of the Treasurer)

STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR PASSAGE IN THE 2010 WINTER SITTINGS

VETERANS’ AFFAIRS AND OTHER LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (MISCELLANEOUS MEASURES) BILL 2009

Purpose of the Bill

The bill will give effect to a number of measures that benefit the veteran community and enhance the operation of the Repatriation pension system including:  

extend from three to twelve months, the time limit for the lodgement of claims for certain travel expenses;

ensure that the provisions for claims for compensation under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 for injuries or diseases that have been aggravated by Defence service under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 operate as intended;

ensure that the provisions for eligibility for war widow or widower pension in respect of a veteran who was a prisoner of war, operate as intended;

enable a Victoria Cross recipient to receive a Victoria Cross allowance under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 and from a foreign country;

enable Defence Service Homes Insurance to pay a State Emergency Service levy to the New South Wales State Government;

extend nuclear test participant eligibility to certain Australian Protective Service officers for the period 20 October 1984 to 30 June 1988; and

enhance the operations of the Specialist Medical Review Council.

Reasons for Urgency

The measures in the bill benefit the veteran community and enhance the operation of the Repatriation pension system.  Passage of the bill in the Winter 2010 sittings will enable the benefit of these measures to be delivered to the veteran community.

 (Circulated by authority of the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs)

STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR INTRODUCTION AND PASSAGE IN THE 2010 WINTER SITTINGS

TAX LAWS AMENDMENT (2010 MEASURES NO. 3) BILL 2010

Purpose of the Bill

This Bill will:

clarify how treasury shares, the previous insurance asset known as excess market value over net assets and capitalised software costs will be recognised under the thin capitalisation provision;

change the taxation of unexpended income for special disability trusts;

amend the definition of a Managed Investment Trust for withholding tax purposes;

provide a power for the heads of certain intelligence agencies to declare particular transactions as being exempt from taxation in relation to particular entities;

freeze indexation of superannuation co-contribution income thresholds for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 income years; and

permanently maintain the co-contribution matching rate and maximum co-contribution payable at 100 per cent and $1,000 respectively.

Reasons for Urgency

The Bill contains two measures announced in the 2009-10 Budget and two in the 2010-2011 Budget.  Any delays in delivery will create uncertainty.

The thin capitalisation measure commences from 1 January 2009.  It is urgent as the current transitional provisions cease to operate for some taxpayers from that date.

The special disability trust measure commences from 1 July 2009.

The Managed Investment Trust measure commences from 1 July 2010.

The measure to allow the heads of certain intelligence agencies to declare particular transactions as being exempt from taxation in relation to particular entities needs to be implemented expeditiously avoid compromising authorised operational activities.

The superannuation co-contribution measures need to be enacted by 1 July 2010 to provide certainty to individuals who are planning to make personal superannuation contributions in the 2010-11 income year in order to receive a Government co-contribution.  If the Bill is not passed in the Winter sittings, indexation of the income thresholds would need to be frozen with retrospective application.  Retrospective application would lead to individuals who have made contributions in the expectation of receiving a co-contribution either not receiving a co-contribution or receiving a reduced level of co-contribution.

 (Circulated by authority of the Treasurer)

STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR INTRODUCTION AND PASSAGE IN THE 2010 WINTER SITTINGS

TAX LAWS AMENDMENT (CONFIDENTIALITY OF TAXPAYER INFORMATION) BILL 2010

Purpose of the Bill

This Bill will amend the secrecy and disclosure provisions applying to taxation information that are currently spread over many taxation law Acts.  Over the years numerous amendments have resulted in unclear and inconsistent rules for the protection of taxpayer information, as well as increased privacy risks. The Bill will consolidate and standardise these various enactments into a single new framework in Schedule 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953.

The new framework is designed to provide clarity and certainty to taxpayers, the Australian Taxation Office and users of taxpayer information and to provide guiding principles to assist in framing any future additions.

The key principle of the new framework is the protection of taxpayer information.  Disclosures of information are, however, permitted in instances where privacy concerns are outweighed by the public benefit of those disclosures.

This measure was announced by the then Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs on 13 March 2009.

Reasons for Urgency

Passage of the Bill in these sittings will give taxpayers the benefit of the new rules for protection of taxpayer information. With one exception, these amendments apply to disclosures of protected information made on or after the day after Royal Assent.  The amendment facilitating disclosures of protected information for purposes relating to unexplained wealth orders will commence the later of the day on which the Bill receives Royal Assent or the commencement of Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Serious and Organised Crime) Act 2009.

 (Circulated by authority of the Treasurer)

STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR INTRODUCTION AND PASSAGE IN THE 2010 WINTER SITTINGS

INSURANCE CONTRACTS AMENDMENT BILL 2010

Purpose of the Bill

The Bill gives effect to a number of recommendations of a Review Panel appointed to review the Insurance Contracts Act 1984.  The changes are largely technical in nature and respond to market developments and judicial decisions since its enactment.  The Bill will streamline requirements and address anomalies in the regulatory framework for the benefit of insurers and consumers. 

The measures have been subject to stakeholder consultation and in some areas the Review Panel’s recommendations have been modified to take account of issues raised in consultations.

Reasons for Urgency

The improvements in the Bill will streamline processes and correct anomalies that will benefit insurers, insureds and the general public.  In particular, it will remove legal impediments that would otherwise exist to insurers dealing with their customers on-line.  This reform has been long-awaited and is linked to the Electronic Transactions Regulations Amendment (No. 2) 2010.  That regulation has already been made but has a commencement dependent upon commencement of Schedule 2 of the Bill.  Further delays will result in loss of efficiencies that would be generated through commencement of the Bill and associated regulations.

 (Circulated by authority of the Minister for Financial Services, Superannuation and Corporate Law)

STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR INTRODUCTION AND PASSAGE

IN THE WINTER 2010 SITTINGS

FARM HOUSEHOLD SUPPORT AMENDMENT (ANCILLARY BENEFITS) BILL 2010

Purpose of the Bill

The bill amends legislation to guarantee access to certain ancillary benefits such as health care cards and youth allowances for beneficiaries of a new payment (the Farm Family Support (FFS) payment) in a forthcoming Western Australian (WA) pilot of drought reform measures due to be conducted in 2010-11.

Reasons for Urgency

The proposed pilot is due to commence on 1 July 2010. Legislation to support the pilot requires urgent passage through parliament during the 2010 Winter sittings to ensure the measure can be implemented from this date. If the legislation is not passed in the Winter sittings, the ancillary benefits cannot be guaranteed for the pilot program participants. There is likely to be concern if some farmers receiving the FFS payments in the pilot are not eligible for ancillary benefits.

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

STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR INTRODUCTION AND PASSAGE IN THE 2010 AUTUMN SITTINGS

TAX LAWS AMENDMENT (Foreign Source Income DEFERRAL) BILL(No. 1) 2010

Purpose of the Bill

This Bill will repeal the foreign investment fund (FIF) and deemed present entitlement (DPE) provisions and ensure certain provisions that interact with announced reforms to the foreign source income attribution rules operate as intended.

Reasons for Urgency

It is preferable that this Bill be passed in the Winter sittings as the amendments are to apply in respect of the 2010-11 income year.  This would allow taxpayers and their advisers sufficient time to prepare for the changes effected by the amendments. It would also allow the Australian Taxation Office to put the necessary systems and administrative support in place.

 (Circulated by authority of the Treasurer)

STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR INTRODUCTION AND PASSAGE IN THE 2010 WINTER SITTINGS

IMMIGRATION (EDUCATION) AMENDMENT BILL 2010

Purpose of the Bill

The purpose of the Bill is to amend the Immigration (Education) Act 1971 (the Act) to implement the new Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) Business Model, which forms part of the Government’s broader settlement framework.  The AMEP is the program through which English language tuition is delivered under the Act.  The new AMEP Business Model provides a greater focus on client outcomes with improved program design, as well as improved program delivery and administration.

Reasons for Urgency

An exemption from Senate Standing Order 111 is sought for this Bill to allow it to be introduced in the Senate in this sitting period.  The exemption is necessary as the Bill was introduced in the House of Representatives in the Autumn sitting period and, if passed by that House this sitting period, it will not be received by the Senate before the Senate cut off date.

The Bill requires introduction and passage through the Senate and the House of Representatives in this sitting period to ensure that the Bill can commence on 1 January 2011, which is the commencement date provided in clause 2 of the Bill.

The commencement provision in the Bill is 1 January 2011 to align with the proposed commencement of the new contracts with service providers which will incorporate the new AMEP Business Model.  This is to ensure that the new AMEP Business Model will be implemented in its entirety on the same day.  The Department of Immigration and Citizenship is currently undertaking a tender process in relation to these new contracts to enable the alignment of the commencement of the legislation amendments and proposed new contracts.

If the Bill is not dealt with before 1 January 2011, aspects of the new AMEP Business Model will be unable to be implemented in line with the new contracts, including key support measures for clients.  These key support measures include the extension of the time frame for clients to register with an approved English course provider from three months to six months.

 (Circulated by authority of the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship)

STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR INTRODUCTION AND PASSAGE IN THE 2010 WINTER SITTINGS

AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY CHEMICALS CODE AMENDMENT BILL 2010

Purpose of the Bill

The Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code Amendment Bill 2010 (the Bill) amends the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code Act 1994 (Agvet Code).

The Bill seeks to improve the registration processes of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) in several ways including:

allowing applicants to follow a simplified application process to effectively notify the APVMA of a limited range of defined, low risk, minor variations to approvals or registrations,

removing a burdensome requirement for registrants to notify the APVMA in writing of the authorisation of approved persons,

limiting the APVMA’s label assessment role to ensuring chemical products display ‘adequate instructions’ for the safe handling and effective use of a product,

allowing trade concerns to trigger a review of a product label, and

allowing the disclosure of certain information where a minor use or emergency use permit has been sought.

These reforms will not compromise the overarching importance the government attaches to the protection of human health and the environment.

Reasons for Urgency

The bill includes reforms that deliver on Council of Australian Governments (COAG) early harvest reforms. Regulation of chemicals and plastics is one of 27 deregulation priority reforms agreed by COAG as part of the National Partnership Agreement to Deliver a Seamless National Economy. Under the revised National Partnership Implementation Plan agreed by COAG in February and April 2010, all remaining early harvest reforms are scheduled for completion by June 2010.

The bill also delivers on some early reforms from ongoing work under a Better Regulation Ministerial Partnership.

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

STATEMENT OF REASONS

BUILDING ENERGY EFFICIENCY DISCLOSURE BILL 2010

Purpose of the Bill

This bill will establish a new national scheme for the disclosure of commercial office building energy efficiency at the point of sale, lease and sublease.  The bill establishes the specific circumstances under which disclosure must occur as well as establishing a framework for building owners and lessors to obtain and disclose building ratings and tenancy lighting information.

Reasons for Urgency

Passage of the bill during the Winter 2010 sittings is required to ensure the commercial disclosure scheme can fully commence in 2010 as per the timeframe agreed to by the Council of Australian Governments in the National Strategy on Energy Efficiency (NSEE).

To meet this timeframe, the bill needs to be enacted by 1 July 2010 so that the necessary administrative arrangements can be established prior to the disclosure obligations commencing towards the end of 2010.

It has been widely communicated to industry that the scheme will commence in second half of 2010, as per the NSEE.  Industry has embraced this timeframe and is already making preparations for the scheme’s introduction.  A delay in implementing the scheme in accordance with this timeframe is therefore likely to attract some criticism from industry, particularly those that have invested significant resources into preparing for the scheme’s introduction.

 (Circulated by authority of the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency)