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Wednesday, 2 March 2011
Page: 988

Senator WILLIAMS (4:49 PM) —On behalf of Senator Coonan, I present a report and the Alert Digest of the Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills.

Ordered that the report be printed.

Senator WILLIAMS —I move:

That the Senate take note of the report.

Senator WILLIAMS —I seek leave to incorporate a tabling statement in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The statement read as follows—



Alert Digest No. 2 and Second Report of 2011

2 March 2011

In tabling the Committee’s Alert Digest No. 2 I particularly draw the Senate’s attention to the Committee’s comments on the Combating the Financing of People Smuggling and Other Measures Bill which proposes additional regulation of remittance dealers.

One aspect of the the bill is that it seeks to extend AUSTRAC’s information gathering powers to include not only a ‘reporting entity’ but also ‘any other person’.

The Committee accepts that there are circumstances in which the power is appropriate, but is of the view that its exercise ought to be subject to a reasonable belief that any information required will assist in the administration of the scheme. The Committee will be seeking the Minister’s advice about about this and a number of other provisions in the Bill.

Another issue of interest to the Committee discussed in Alert Digest No. 2 arises from the Customs Amendment (Serious Drugs Detection) Bill. This Bill will allow customs and border protection officers to use prescribed equipment to undertake an internal body scan of a person who is reasonably suspected to be internally concealing a suspicious substance.

The proposed measures are stated to replicate existing levels of protection in relation to internal scans. A detainee’s consent is required before a scan can take place and other safeguards are also in place. In the Committee’s view the general question of whether the legislation is a proportionate encroachment on personal rights and liberties is one which should appropriately be left to the Senate as a whole.

However, the Committee has 2 specific issues of concern under Standing Order 24 that it intends to raise with the Minister. The first is that although the explanatory memorandum indicates that if prescribed equipment has broader scan capabilities than those needed for the purposes of this bill the equipment will be locked to ensure that the capability cannot be accessed inappropriately this requirement is not included in the primary legislation.

The second concern is that although the explanatory memorandum describes some circumstances in which a person would be considered ‘in need of protection’ and therefore a scan could not be undertaken the legislation itself does not provide any guidance as to the defintion.

Several other Bills also contain issues of potential concern under Standing Order 24 and I draw the Senate’s attention to all of the Committee’s comments in Alert Digest No.2.

In relation to its Second Report, the Committee has received a detailed response about the many issues raised in its previous Alert Digest about the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Bill. The Committee thanks the Minister for his reply, but unfortunately the Committee retains a number of significant concerns about the Bill. These concerns include the broad power for the Regulator to amend accredited courses without guidelines for circumstances in which this is appropriate, the ability to seize evidential material not specified in a search warrant and the adequacy of safeguards and accountability measures for the use of force during the execution of a search warrant. The Committee has outlined its concerns in its Report No.2 and will forward them to the Senate Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Legislation Committee for information in relation to its inquiry into the Bill.

I commend Alert Digest No. 2 of 2011 and the Second Report of 2011 to the Senate.