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Thursday, 12 May 2011
Page: 2432


Senator LUDWIG (QueenslandMinister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Manager of Government Business in the Senate and Minister Assisting the Attorney-General on Queensland Floods Recovery) (12:12): I move:

That the se 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—

Aviation Transport Security Amendment (Air Cargo) Bill 2011

The legislative framework of Australia's aviation security regime consists of a suite of measures designed to deter and prevent acts of unlawful interference with aviation. The framework is constantly reviewed to ensure it adapts to evolving threats to the security of the Australian aviation industry.

The Aviation Transport Security Amendment (Air Cargo) Bill 2011 (the Bill) contains four key amendments to the Aviation Transport Security Act 2004 (the Act) to simplify and strengthen the existing security regulatory framework for supply chain security. These amendments are critical in terms of improving security outcomes.

The Bill:

improves Australia's capacity to respond to events of heightened transport security threat;

provides transitionary arrangements to ease the regulatory burden on air cargo industry members while Australia moves to implement the new air cargo security initiatives announced by the Government on 9 February 2010;

allows for training requirements of air cargo industry members to be prescribed by Legislative Instrument which will increase the transparency of training requirements and allow scrutiny by the Parliament; and

simplifies the air cargo clearance process by removing terminology that is not relevant or that is inconsistent with operational procedures used in the air cargo industry.

In late October 2010, terrorists operating from Yemen concealed improvised explosive devices inside printers and sent them as air cargo consignments to the United States of America. Intelligence information led to the successful disruption of this attempted terrorist targeting of the aviation sector. This event reinforced the need to be able to respond quickly to address emerging threats.

The Australian Government took immediate action to protect the travelling public and the Australian aviation sector, strengthening measures against inbound cargo originating from Yemen and Somalia. This was achieved through Special Security Directions issued to Regulated Air Cargo Agents (RACAs) which initially required screening of inbound air cargo arriving directly from the Middle East and later banned carriage of air cargo from Yemen and Somalia.

This Bill continues to strengthen Australia's air cargo security through four measures.

First, this Bill will amend the definition of 'aviation industry participant' to include Accredited Air Cargo Agents. Under the current legislative arrangements, Accredited Air Cargo Agents are not defined as a type of aviation industry participant and therefore are not subject to the full suite of regulatory obligations that apply to aviation industry participants.

Adding Accredited Air Cargo Agents to the definition of aviation industry participants in the Act will allow Special Security Directions to be applied to Accredited Air Cargo Agents in times of heightened security threat and require them to comply with incident reporting requirements. This amendment will provide for consistent security obligations to be applied to all aviation industry participants.

Second, the Bill extends the validity of Regulated Air Cargo Agents' Transport Security Programs to ease the burden on both industry and the Department during the transition to a new air cargo security framework that aligns with world's best practice. The framework was announced by the Government on 9 February 2010 and included the establishment of a Regulated Shipper Scheme and funding to assist industry to procure appropriate examination technology such as x-ray and explosive trace detection equipment to secure air cargo. The proposed transitional provisions will enable the air cargo industry members to determine the most appropriate regulatory scheme for their business, reduce compliance costs and streamline regulatory requirements during the progressive implementation of the new framework. This amendment will extend the validity of existing Transport Security Programs to 31 December 2012 unless the Transport Security Program is revised prior to this date.

Third, the Bill will allow for a Legislative Instrument to clearly prescribe security training requirements for Regulated Air Cargo Agents and Accredited Air Cargo Agents. This will ensure consistency in training outcomes and increase the security of air cargo across the industry. A Legislative Instrument also increases the transparency and scrutiny by the Parliament of the training prescribed.

Finally, the Bill includes some minor technical amendments which will simplify the air cargo clearance process by:

removing 'certification' provisions to accurately reflect operational procedures applied by industry whilst maintaining the integrity of air cargo security measures; and

removing all references to the term 'freight' and replacing them with the term 'cargo'. Cargo is a term which is more relevant to industry practices and terminology, and is consistent with other existing provisions in the Act.

In summary, the Bill will provide a more secure air cargo environment. The proposed amendments:

increase flexibility and responsiveness to situations of heightened security threat;

reduce the regulatory burden and cost to industry members during the progressive transition to the new air cargo security framework;

allow for greater scrutiny, consistency and transparency of training requirements for air cargo industry members; and

simplify terminology appropriate to industry practices and procedures.

Such changes are necessary in the continual refinement and improvement of the security arrangements to ensure Australia is positioned to respond to emerging security threats and continue to meet world's best practice in our transport sector.

 

Customs Amendment (Export Controls And Other Measures) Bill 2011

This Bill is part of the Government's initiatives to increase the level of security in the export cargo environment by strengthening the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service controls over international export cargo. The Bill will enhance Customs and Border Protection's ability to respond to specific security concerns and to detect and respond to high-risk export cargo.

These measures implement the outcomes from a joint Customs and Border Protection and Department of Infrastructure and Transport review, which formed part of the Australian Government's response to the Independent Review of Airport Security and Policing for the Government of Australia (the Wheeler Report).

The measures are both balanced and proportionate to the risks in the export cargo environment; they will not needlessly affect the movement of legitimate export cargo.

The Bill also proposes changes that will more closely align the legislation with existing air and sea cargo industry export business processes. These changes address concerns raised by the Australian National Audit Office in its review of the 'Cargo Management Re-engineering Project'.

This Bill will improve Customs and Border Protection's ability to deal with goods in licensed depots and warehouses as well as aligning the procedures and terminology that apply to the two schemes, providing clarity to licence holders. This includes new provisions for the suspension and cancellation of depot licences.

The Bill will also enable the Chief Executive Officer of Customs to specify conditions on depot and warehouse licences to ensure compliance with other laws of the Commonwealth or a State or Territory, and it will introduce strict liability offences for breaches of licence conditions. These changes are designed to support the security improvement initiatives relating to export cargo.

In response to industry suggestions, the Bill will remove a requirement for reporting cargo on board lost or wrecked ships or aircraft where a report has already been made and it will remove some redundant provisions.

Customs and Border Protection has consulted industry extensively on the changes in this Bill through a principles paper in 2008 and the release of an exposure draft of the Bill in February 2011.

 

Family Assistance And Other Legislation Amendment (Child Care And Other Measures) Bill 2011

The Family Assistance and Other Legislation Amendment (Child Care and Other Measures) Bill 2011 makes a number of administrative amendments to family assistance law to strengthen debt recovery and improve compliance and the administration of the Child Care Benefit .

These amendments will make important changes to the Family Assistance Administration Act and other legislation to improve accountability in the child care sector.

We know how important this is.

The overnight collapse of ABC Learning in 2008 was quite simply unprecedented.

The Government ' s quick and decisive action meant that 90 per cent of these centres continue to operate for Australian families today.

Had the Government ' s support not been provided, almost 100,000 families would have had to find alternative care arrangements with little or no notice.

Since 2008 the Government has introduced a range of new measures to ensure the financial viability of child care providers including strengthening approvals processes and requiring additional notification of closures of centres .

This Bill will broaden the powers of the Secretary to refuse the approval of a child care service for the purposes of family assistance law, to ensure that operators are fit and proper persons.

This will give the Australian Government greater scrutiny over operators and their past practices.

The Bill will also enable the Australian Govern ­ ment to offset and recover payments owed by one service from another services operated by the same operator.

This will ensure that operators that run up debts to the Commonwealth in one service can be held accountable for their actions.

For instance, this will stop an operator who accumulates debts, and then exits the market, from re-entering the market under a restructured company with similar but not identical directors.

Under current legislation, the Government can only consider the exact operator and their history in the industry.

This will facilitate a broader consideration of the child care operators associated organisations and individuals both in the approvals and ongoing approvals processes.

The new approvals processes include financial checks for new child care centre operators to make sure they are viable from the outset and well placed to meet quality standards.

The amendments in this bill represent a part of our commitment to improving accountability within the child care market, and protecting the market from unscrupulous operators .

Importantly, the Bill will also support the Government ' s $273.7 million investment in the National Quality Framework.

The changes to protected information will support the National Quality Framework by enabling the Commonwealth to share information on child care services ' with State and Territory regulatory bodies .

This will benefit services by not having to provide the same information to more than one body.

The framework, endorsed by COAG, will

improve educator to child ratios so that each child gets more individual time and attention;

introduce educator qualification requirements so educators are better able to lead activities that inspire youngsters and help them learn and develop;

include a new ratings system so parents know the quality of care on offer and can make informed choices; and

reduce regulation burden so services only have to deal with one regulator.

We are doing this because we know from years of international research that the first five years of a child ' s life shapes their future - their health, learning and social development - and we want to make sure that future is bright.

 

Trans-Tasman Proceedings Amendment and Other Measures Bill 2011

The signing of the Australia New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement in 1983, and a range of other instruments, has lead to closer business links and greater economic integration between our two countries.

With this is an increased likelihood of cross-border legal disputes and the need for greater civil legal cooperation arrangements.

The Trans-Tasman Regime

In 2008, the Australian and the New Zealand Government signed the Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of New Zealand on trans-Tasman Court Proceedings and Regulatory Enforcement.

The Agreement seeks to streamline and simplify arrangements for the service of documents, recognition and enforcement of judgments, obtaining and giving evidence, and appearing remotely in proceedings.

In March last year, this Parliament passed legislation implementing this agreement - the Trans-Tasman Proceedings Act 2010 and consequential legislation. The New Zealand Parliament passed the companion Act in August last year.

During its passage through Parliament, several amendments were made to the New Zealand Bill in response to parliamentary committee reports and stakeholder comments.

Australia was consulted and agreed to these changes.

Schedules 1 and 2 of the Bill I am introducing today will address, where necessary, any divergence between the Australian and New Zealand legislation to ensure the effective operation of the cooperative scheme. The Bill will make minor amendments to harmonise the language and structure of the Australian legislation with the New Zealand Act. It will also make some minor technical amendments to enhance the internal consistency of the Australian legislation.

Family Law Fee Validation

In addition, this Bill also contains technical measures to retrospectively validate fees charged for de facto financial proceedings under the Family Law Act 1975 in the Family Court of Australia, and certain State and Territory courts. After most States and Territories referred their relevant powers, jurisdiction under the Family Law Act for de facto financial matters was conferred on the Family Court of Australia, and relevant State and Territory courts, on 1 March 2009.

A technical error in the amending legislation resulted in an anomaly in the application of the fee provisions of the Family Law Regulations 1984 to de facto financial proceedings. This affects fees paid on de facto financial matters between 1 March 2009 and 26 November 2010. The Family Law Regulations 1984 were amended from this latter date to enable the fees to be properly collected.

It has always been the Government's intention to have the fee apply consistently to de facto and matrimonial disputes under the Family Law Act.

The measures in Schedule 3 of this Bill would retrospectively correct the anomaly and ensure that the fees applying to de facto financial proceedings were the same as those applying to matrimonial financial proceedings and parenting matters in the relevant period.

It is anticipated that the Trans-Tasman Proceedings regime will commence in the second half of 2011, after both Australia and New Zealand have put in place the domestic arrangements necessary to comply with the obligations of the 2008 Agreement.

The amendments contained in this Bill are a vital step in this process.

Once implemented, this regime will stand as a significant piece of micro-economic reform and I commend the Bill.

Debate adjourned.

Senator LUDWIG: I move:

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