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Classification (Publications, Film and Computer Games) Charges Bill 1998
Bills Digest No. 41 1998-99
This Digest was prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments. This Digest does no t have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.
To impose charges for applications for classification of publications, films an d computer games and for related services provided under the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995.
This Bill reintroduces measures which were included in the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Cha rges Bill 1997 (the 1997 Bill). The previous Bill was passed by the House of Representatives on 4 December 1997, having been introduced on 26 November 1997. It was introduced into the Senate on 4 December 1997 but lapsed when the election was called on 31 August 1998. This Bill is written in exactly the same terms as the previous Bill.
On 3 December 1997 the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills expressed concern over clause 13 of the 1997 Bill which allowed the amount of the charge for classification to be amended by regulation without an upper limit being prescribed. The Committee queried whether this clause might be considered to delegate the legislative power of Parliament inappropriately. It suggested that a government charge which was set by regulation was, in fact, a form of taxation, and that it was for Parliament to set a tax rate, not the makers of regulations. The Committee’s report said that if there was a compelling case for approaching the issue in this way, then the principal legislation should prescribe the maximum charge above which the regulations should not go.(1)
The Attorney-General, Hon Daryl Williams QC MP responded to the Committee’s concerns. He said that charges reflected in the Bill were not a general Government revenue raising measure. They were set so as to generate sufficient revenue to pay for the full operating cost of the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) in any one year. It would have been the Government’s preference to set the initial charges in regulations made under the enabling Act with some formula or ceiling placed on the charges in the primary legislation. He outlined several alternatives that were considered but concluded that the use of regulations, which it is open to Parliament to disallow, was the most appropriate compromise in this case.(2)
For general background, refer to the Digest for the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Amendment Bill 1998.
Clauses 5-12 impose the charges payable for applications for classification of publications, films and computer games and for related services provided under the Principal Act. The amount of these charges is specified in Schedules 1-6 .
From time to time, changes to the imposed charges will be required in order to adhere to the policy of full cost recovery. Clause 13 allows such changes to be made by regulation.
1. Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills, Alert Digest , no. 18 of 1997, 3 December 1997, p. 10.
2. Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills, Alert Digest , no. 3 of 1998, 25 March 1998, p. 42-44.
Mary Anne Neilsen and Rosemary Bell
30 November 1998
Bills Digest Service
Information and Research Services
This paper has been prepared for general distribution to Senators and Members of the Australian Parliament. While great care is taken to ensure that the paper is accurate and balanced, the paper is written using information publicly available at the time of production. The views expressed are those of the author and should not be attributed to the Information and Research Services (IRS). Advice on legislation or legal policy issues contained in this paper is provided for use in parliamentary debate and for related parliamentary purposes. This paper is not professional legal opinion. Readers are reminded that the paper is not an official parliamentary or Australian government document. IRS staff are available to discuss the paper's contents with Senators and Members and their staff but not with members of the public.