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Monday, 29 October 2012
Page: 8200


Senator JACINTA COLLINS (VictoriaManager of Government Business in the Senate and Parliamentary Secretary for School Education and Workplace Relations) (15:35): 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 the following bills, allowing them to be considered during this period of sittings:

Aviation Legislation Amendment (Liability and Insurance) Bill 2012

Federal Circuit Court of Australia Legislation Amendment Bill 2012

Higher Education Support Amendment (Maximum Payment Amounts and Other Measures) Bill 2012

Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Further 2012 Budget and Other Measures) Bill 2012.

I also 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 2012 SPRING SITTINGS

AVIATION LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (LIABILITY AND INSURANCE) BILL 2012

Purpose of the Bill

The bill amends the framework for the liability of air carriers in the event of an aircraft accident. The framework is established by the Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act 1959 and the Damage by Aircraft Act 1999. The amendments address some of the shortcomings in the current framework that were identified in the development of the 2009 National Aviation Policy White Paper.

The key amendments include:

increasing the domestic passenger liability cap and mandatory insurance requirements from $500,000 to $725,000. The cap was last updated in response to the Monarch airlines crash in Young in 1993, which eventually led to the establishment of the system of mandatory insurance;

ensure consistency with the 1999 Montreal Convention concerning international flights by removing references to ‘personal injury’ and replacing it with ‘bodily injury’;

amend the Damage by Aircraft Act 1999 (DBA Act) to reflect the principle of contributory negligence;

amend the DBA Act to allow defendants to seek a right of contribution from other parties who may have contributed to the damage suffered by the person bringing the claim;

preclude potential claimants from claiming compensation for mental injuries where that person has not suffered additional personal or property damage; and

replace the reference in the Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act 1959 (CACL Act) to the Montreal Protocol Number 4 with reference to the 1999 Montreal Convention. Reasons for Urgency

The bill implements reforms agreed in the 2009 National Aviation Policy White Paper. The level of compensation payable to victims of air craft accidents has not been updated since 1994. From 1994 inflation has increased the cost of living by approximately 2.7 per cent per year. This represents a real imbalance between the compensation currently payable under the CACL Act and the increase in the cost of living since the bill’s inception. Delaying the progress of the bill will impact on the ability of air crash victims to obtain equitable compensation in the event of an aviation disaster.

This bill was passed unopposed in the House of Representatives.

 

STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR INTRODUCTION AND PASSAGE IN THE 2012 SPRING SITTINGS

FEDERAL CIRCUIT COURT OF AUSTRALIA LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2012

Purpose of the Bill

This Bill will amend the Federal Magistrates Act 1999 and other legislation relating to Federal Magistrates’ entitlements to rename the Federal Magistrates Court as the ‘Federal Circuit Court of Australia’, and change the title of the Chief Federal Magistrate to ‘Chief Judge’ and the title of Federal Magistrates to ‘Judge’.

The Bill includes amendments to:

maintain current entitlements of Federal Magistrates under their new title

provide for styling of the Chief Federal Magistrate and Federal Magistrates under their new title

change statutory position titles, such as the Chief Executive Officer, consequential to the new name of the Court, and

provide for transitional and saving arrangements to ensure continuity of the Federal Magistrates Court and arrangements under which it operates.

This Bill will operate together with a separate, later Bill that will include consequential amendments for other Commonwealth legislation that references the Federal Magistrates Court and Federal Magistrates.

Reasons for Urgency

Since the Federal Magistrates Court commenced operation in 2000 its jurisdiction has expanded and the number and complexity of the cases coming before it have increased. It is the only federal court with a program of regular regional circuits. The current name of the Federal Magistrates Court and title of Federal Magistrates does not adequately capture the increasingly complex work undertaken by the court and its judicial officers.

The Attorney General proposes that legislation to implement the changes be passed so that the changes of title for the Court and Federal Magistrates can commence early in 2013.

This Bill provides a legislative basis for the changes to the name of the Federal Magistrates Court and title of Federal Magistrates, and is uncontroversial. Passage of the legislation in the Spring 2012 sittings will enable implementation in early 2013.

 

STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR INTRODUCTION AND PASSAGE IN THE 2012 SPRING SITTINGS

HIGHER EDUCATION SUPPORT AMENDMENT (MAXIMUM PAYMENT AMOUNTS AND OTHER MEASURES) BILL

Purpose of the Bill

The bill amends the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA) to update maximum payment amounts for Other Grants and Commonwealth Scholarships to provide for indexation and to include the 2016 funding year.

The bill will also amend HESA to allow wider disclosure of certain information (including personal information) collected under HESA, specifically unit record data, which is information about student enrolments, student load, course completions and staff. The bill will allow disclosure of this information to higher education and vocational education and training providers under HESA, state and territory governments, the National VET Regulator, bodies or associations determined by the Minister by legislative instrument and the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) to assess the impact of the Government’s higher education and VET reforms and to a third party contracted by the government to conduct surveys of staff, students and former students.

Lastly, the bill will amend the Australian Research Council Act 2001 to update the special appropriation funding cap administered by the Australian Research Council to include indexation adjustments and to add an additional forward estimate for existing schemes within the National Competitive Grants Program.

Reasons for Urgency

In respect of the indexation measures, the maximum payment amounts for Other Grants and Commonwealth Scholarships under sections 41-45 and 46-40 of HESA and the Annual funding cap amounts under section 49 of the ARC Act are amended on an annual basis to reflect indexation and other variations.

In regards to the information disclosure measures, TEQSA has written to the Department requesting access to unit record data by 1 October 2012 to enable it to undertake risk assessments of higher education providers by the end of 2012. Universities require access to unit record data towards the end of 2012 to assist in planning student loads for 2013.

 

STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR INTRODUCTION AND PASSAGE IN THE 2012 SPRING SITTINGS

SOCIAL SECURITY AND OTHER LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (FURTHER 2012 BUDGET AND OTHER MEASURES) BILL

Purpose of the Bill

The bill would introduce several measures from the 2012-13 Budget. The first of these would provide for a 12-month extension from 1 January 2013 of the welfare reform trial in the Cape York area. In a significant boost to Indigenous education, the bill would also amend the Indigenous Education (Targeted Assistance) Act 2000 to increase the Act’s legislative appropriation for several education initiatives.

The bill would also make some non-Budget amendments to clarify current Government policies and improve the operation of existing legislation. These amendments would include minor clarifications to the schoolkids bonus legislation, payments under which are due to start from 1 January 2013.

Reasons for Urgency

The Cape York welfare reform trial began in 2008, but is currently due to end on 31 December 2012. Passage of the bill in the 2012 Spring sittings would allow the trial to continue for 12 months, as announced in the Budget. To date, the trial has made a real and lasting difference in the lives of Indigenous people in Cape York, bringing improvements in school attendance, care and protection of children, and community safety. The 12-month extension would provide an opportunity to build on the success of the initiatives already underway, including the completion of an independent evaluation.

The minor clarifications relating to the schoolkids bonus also need to be passed in the 2012 Spring sittings, in time for the first payments of the new bonus to be made to families from 1 January 2013.