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Thursday, 23 August 2012
Page: 6228

Senator FEENEY (VictoriaParliamentary Secretary for Defence) (12:32): 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—

International Monetary Agreeme nts Amendment (Loans) Bill 2012

The bill amends the International Monetary Agreements Act 1947 to allow Australia to accept two amendments to the terms and conditions of the New Arrangements to Borrow (NAB) of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), adopted by the IMF Executive Board on 16 November 2011 and 21 December 2011.

The NAB is a voluntary set of credit arrangements between the IMF and a number of its members. Australia has been a participant in the NAB since its inception in 1998.

The purpose of the NAB is to act as the backstop to the normal quota-based resources of the IMF, by providing the IMF with recourse to borrow from its members when supplementary resources are needed to forestall or cope with an impairment of the international monetary system, or to deal with a crisis that threatens the stability of the system.

In response to the turmoil of the global financial crisis, in April 2009, G20 Leaders in London committed to increase the size of the NAB to give the IMF the resources it needs to play its role in crisis prevention and resolution. Australia played its part in this global effort, and when the expanded NAB, currently totalling 370 billion special drawing rights (SDR), which is around $530 billion, came into effect on 11 March 2011, Australia’s NAB credit line increased from SDR 801 million, which is around $1.2 billion, to around SDR 4.4 billion, which is around $6.3 billion.

This increase in the NAB, whilst a timely and necessary measure, raised the IMF’s reliance on voluntary borrowed resources to an unprecedented high level. In order to reduce the IMF’s reliance on voluntary borrowed resources and to maintain the IMF as a quota-based institution, members of the IMF agreed on 15 December 2010 to a doubling of IMF quota resources with a corresponding reduction in the size of NAB credit arrangements.

The increase in IMF quotas will come into effect when the necessary threshold of consents has been received by members. The quota increase will also enhance the legitimacy of the IMF by enabling a redistribution of quota and voting shares towards dynamically growing emerging economies, in particular those in the Asian region.

Accordingly, when Australia’s IMF quota increase comes into effect, our NAB commitment will be reduced from its current level of SDR 4.37 billion to SDR 2.22 billion, around $3.2 billion. The 2010 quota increase was included in the 2011-12 Budget, and will take effect when the required threshold of consents from IMF members is met.

In addition to decreasing the size of the NAB, this Bill will reflect agreed amendments to renew the NAB for a further five year period, commencing on 17 November 2012, and to facilitate the NAB rollback while avoiding the risk of a temporary negative impact on IMF liquidity.

Statute Law Revision Bill 2012

This government is doing what we need to do to make the Commonwealth statute book, simpler, clearer and easier to understand. Most recently we introduced legislation to substantially reduce redundant regulations through the Legislative instruments Act (Sunsetting Measures) Bill, in close consultation with affected industries.

This Statute Law Revision Bill is another small step towards that goal.

Statute Law Revision bills have been used for the last thirty years to improve the quality of Commonwealth legislation. The bills do not make substantive changes to law but still perform the important function of repairing minor errors in the Commonwealth statute books which accumulated across successive government amendments, and improving the accuracy and useability of consolidated versions of Commonwealth acts.

This continual process of statutory review complements the government’s commitment to creating clearer Commonwealth laws. The review process undertaken in the preparation of this bill serves to ensure the statute book contains less clutter, in the form of outdated cross-references, and by repealing obsolete acts.

Schedules 1, 2, 6 and 7 of this bill achieve three main ends:

1. correcting minor and technical errors in acts, such as grammatical and numbering errors

2. correcting amendments or amending acts which are erroneous, misdescribed or redundant, and

3. repealing obsolete amending provisions and acts.

By removing or amending outdated or unclear legislative provisions this bill helps make the law clearer, more consistent and easier to access.

Schedule 3 removes specific references to the Civil Aviation Regulations, replacing them with references to ‘regulations made under the Civil Aviation Act 1988’. This replaces specific references to regulations with references to the principal act, which are more generic and robust.

Current drafting practice is to avoid referring to particular regulations by name. This reduces the risk of reader confusion and error in cases where the names of the regulations change or the contents of the regulations alter.

Schedule 4 makes amendments consequential on amendments to the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 and the enactment of the Legislative Instruments Act 2003.

The amendments repeal provisions relating to acting appointments that are redundant as they are now covered by section 33AB and 33A of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901. These items also add notes referring to the general acting appointment rules in the Acts Interpretation Act 1901.

The Schedule also includes an item which updates a reference from section 49A of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 to section 14 of the Legislation Instruments Act 2003. This is necessary as the content of section 49A, which was repealed in 2003, is now replicated in section 14.

Schedule 5 of the bill amends a number of acts to ensure that

Commonwealth Ministers are identified by reference to the administration of identified legislation rather than by specific name, and

Commonwealth Departments are identified by reference to the minister administering identified legislation or a particular matter, rather than by specific name.

Currently, when the names of ministers or departments change, or when responsibility for particular legislation is transferred between ministers or departments, the Governor-General makes substituted reference orders under sections 19B and 19BA of the acts Interpretation Act 1901. The orders allow references to specific ministers or departments in legislation to be read as though they are references to the correct minister or department. This means that users of Commonwealth legislation have to read the legislation in conjunction with these orders.

The amendments contained in schedule 5 will greatly reduce reliance on section 19B and 19BA orders, and the need for such orders to be made in the future. This is because the amendments insert more generic references to ministers and departments in Commonwealth acts.

For example, instead of referring to the specific title of the “Minister for Finance”, after these amendments have been passed, they will refer to the generic title of “Finance Minister”. This will be defined as “the Minister administering the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997”. The new reference will remain accurate even if the specific title of the minister with that responsibility may change over time. This will improve the clarity and useability of Commonwealth Acts.

I thank the Office of Parliamentary Counsel, and officers across many government departments, for the significant time and effort that went into preparing this bill. This is just one demonstration of the OPC’s drafting expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to ensuring that Commonwealth legislation is clear, accurate and effective.

I commend this bill to the Senate.

Senator FEENEY: I move:

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

Question agreed to.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Marshall ): In accordance with standing order 111, further consideration of these bills is now adjourned to the first day of the next period of sittings, which commences in 2013.