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Thursday, 28 October 2010
Page: 1010

Senator SHERRY (Minister for Small Business, Minister Assisting on Deregulation and Minister Assisting the Minister for Tourism) (11:04 AM) —I move:

That these bills be now read a second time.

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

Leave granted.

The speeches read as follows—

Autonomous Sanctions Bill 2010

The Autonomous Sanctions Bill 2010 was previously tabled before the House by the former Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Stephen Smith MP, on 26 May 2010.

I commend the speech the former minister made on that occasion in which he laid out the rationale for this bill.

The bill introduced today is unchanged from the bill that was tabled in parliament earlier this year.

It is appropriate to mention the importance of autonomous sanctions in international diplomacy.

These are specifically targeted measures that are intended to apply pressure on regimes engaging in behaviour of serious international concern.

Iran’s persistent failure to abide by legally binding United Nations Security Council decisions and to provide the necessary cooperation to enable the International Atomic Energy Agency to confirm that its nuclear activities are solely for peaceful purposes is a consistent threat to international peace and security.

In response to this threat, members of the international community, including Australia, the United States, the European Union, Canada, Japan and the Republic of Korea have imposed autonomous sanctions to reinforce and supplement United Nations Security Council sanctions against Iran.

In the past it has been possible to apply such sanctions using other existing instruments intended for other purposes.

Most recently a package of measures were applied against Iran with the support of the opposition during the caretaker period.

Australia does not take its obligations to international peace and security lightly.

It is imperative to support like-minded states in maintaining international peace and security.

This recent concerted international action targeting Iran’s nuclear and missile programs demonstrates the urgent need to strengthen Australia’s autonomous sanctions regime by allowing greater flexibility in the range of measures Australia can implement, beyond those achievable under existing instruments.

This will ensure that Australia’s autonomous sanctions can match the scope and strength of measures implemented by like-minded states.

Impact of sanctions on regimes

Closer to home, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continues its belligerent behaviour in defiance of the United Nations Security Council resolutions adopted on 14 October 2006 and 12 June 2009.

Earlier this year, North Korea’s threat to regional stability was on display again with its unprovoked attack on the Republic of Korea naval vessel, the Cheonan.

Autonomous sanctions further augment pressures on regimes where Security Council sanctions have been adopted, such as those with Iran and North Korea.

Autonomous sanctions are also a critical tool in applying pressure on regimes whose behaviour raises serious international concerns—whether it be human rights violations or acts of aggression—and are not subject to UNSC sanctions.

The measures in question are in accordance with section 14 of the Privacy Act 1988, which sets out the information privacy principles.

They do not allow a record keeper who has possession or control of a record that contains personal information to disclose the information to a person, body or agency (other than the individual concerned) other than as authorised under the measures in part 4 (this is in accordance with subparagraph 1(d) of information privacy principle 11).

They also do not allow a person, body or agency to whom personal information is disclosed pursuant to part 4 to use or disclose the information for a purpose other than the purpose for which the information was given (in accordance with paragraph 3 of information privacy principle 11).

The Australian government will continue to review regularly autonomous sanctions with respect to the ongoing need to apply pressure on particular regimes as well as the sanctions measures applied to that particular regime.

I commend the bill.

Veterans’ Affairs Legislation Amendment (Weekly Payments) Bill 2010

I am pleased to present legislation that will implement an important element of the Government’s strategy to address homelessness.

This Bill will implement, in the Repatriation system, a key reform of the White Paper, The Road Home: a national approach to reducing homelessness. As part of this Government’s initiative, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs will introduce an option of weekly payments for those who are homeless or at risk. 

Weekly payments for Centrelink clients became available in April this year and this Bill will enable weekly payments to also be available to those Veterans’ Affairs clients who will benefit from a shorter payment interval and who want to receive their payments on a weekly basis. 

Existing legislation requires pensions to be paid fortnightly in arrears.  Amendments in this bill will allow for weekly payments in a move that is more responsive and personalised to the needs of the most vulnerable.

While this change does not affect the total amount of pension a person can receive, a weekly payment regime will be one element of assistance to those more vulnerable clients to help them better manage their money and provide an opportunity to stabilise and improve their circumstances.  This is another change that is a clear demonstration of the Government’s leadership and commitment to review, update and improve support that is provided to those who serve, or have served, in the defence of our nation.

Debate (on motion by Senator Sherry) adjourned.

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