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Australian Crime Commission (National Policing Information Charges) Bill 2015

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2013-2014-2015

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

australian crime commission (national policing information CHARGES) bill 2015

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of the

Minister for Justice, the Hon Michael Keenan MP)

                                                                                                        



 

australian crime commission (national policing information CHARGES) Bill 2015

general Outline

1.                 This Bill forms a package with the Australian Crime Commission Amendment (National Policing Information) Bill 2015 (Consolidation Bill), which would merge the CrimTrac Agency into the Australian Crime Commission (ACC).   

2.                 This Bill and the Consolidation Bill are intended to implement a decision by the Law, Crime and Community Safety Council.  This Bill also implements a Government decision to provide a legislative basis for CrimTrac’s current charging arrangements.

3.                 The purpose of this Bill is to create a legislative basis for the ACC to be able to impose charges, as taxes, for applications for, and the provision of, national policing information services currently provided by CrimTrac. 

4.                 CrimTrac currently provides a national criminal history checking service, known as the National Police Checking Service (NPCS).  The NPCS is used for the purposes of employment (including volunteer) screening and to provide a complete national view of a person’s previous convictions for criminal offences. The NPCS is not currently provided directly to members of the public, but rather is provided to the Australian police services and to certain accredited agencies (which comprise Commonwealth, State and Territory government agencies and commercial agencies).

5.                 CrimTrac is a self-funded federal scheme established under an InterGovernmental Agreement with the States and Territories.  CrimTrac currently charges for each of the checks performed as a result of a request from an accredited agency or police service.  The amount of these charges is set by the CrimTrac Board following consultation with and the agreement of police jurisdictions.  The CrimTrac Board comprises all Police Commissioners, the ACT Chief Police Officer, and a representative from the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department.

6.                 CrimTrac also provides a number of other information systems and services for police and other partner agencies, including services that support day to day policing activities.  As part of its self-funded business model, CrimTrac subsidises the cost of these other services using revenue derived from the NPCS, at no cost to police or Australian governments. 

7.                 The Consolidation Bill would transfer CrimTrac’s functions over to the ACC and abolish the CrimTrac Board of Management and the position of CrimTrac CEO.  This Bill would enable the ACC to continue CrimTrac’s self-funded business model in order to ensure the sustainable delivery of information systems and services to meet the emerging needs of police. 

8.                 This Bill creates a framework that would allow charges to be imposed by the ACC for services other than just criminal history checking.  This is currently within the remit of the CrimTrac Board and the parameters of the InterGovernmental Agreement.  This is necessary to ensure CrimTrac’s business model can adapt to the emerging information technology needs of police.

9.                 The specific amendments are detailed below under the heading ‘Notes on Clauses’.

FINANCIAL IMPACT

10.             The merger will be cost neutral with small savings expected over the forward estimates.  This Bill would establish a framework that allows the Minister to determine the amount of charges, who must pay them, and the services to be subject to a charge.  It is intended to provide a legislative basis for CrimTrac’s current charging arrangements after merger with the ACC and would therefore have no direct financial impact.



STATEMENT OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

Australian Crime Commission (National Policing Information Charges) Bill 2015

This Bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

Overview of the Bill

This Bill would provide a legislative basis for the imposition of a charge for applications for, and the provision of, national policing information services by the Australian Crime Commission (ACC).  

Currently, the CrimTrac Agency provides national policing information services and charges police and accredited agencies for criminal history checks.  Police and accredited agencies provide these checks to the community for a variety of purposes, such as employment vetting.  CrimTrac uses this revenue to provide necessary services to assist police in combating crime and keeping the community safe.

The Australian Crime Commission Amendment (National Policing Information) Bill 2015 would merge CrimTrac with the ACC.  This Bill is necessary to allow the ACC to continue providing the services CrimTrac currently does and to continue to support police using revenue from these services. 

The Bill is enabling and facilitative in nature.  It provides a mechanism that allows the Minister to determine the parameters of charges to be imposed for national policing information services in a legislative instrument after receiving written recommendations from the ACC Board.   

Human rights implications

This Bill does not engage any of the applicable rights or freedoms.

Conclusion

This Bill is compatible with human rights as it does not raise any human rights issues.

 

 



NOTES ON CLAUSES

Background

1.                    This Bill forms a package with the Australian Crime Commission Amendment (National Policing Information) Bill 2015 (Consolidation Bill), which would merge the CrimTrac Agency into the Australian Crime Commission (ACC).   This Bill and the Consolidation Bill to implement a decision by the Law, Crime and Community Safety Council.    This Bill also implements a Government decision to provide a legislative basis for CrimTrac’s current charging arrangements.

2.                    The Bill creates a new Act that imposes charges, as taxes, on applications for and the provision of national policing information services by the ACC. 

3.                    The Consolidation Bill provides the necessary machinery for the charges to be imposed by this Bill.

Preliminary

Clause 1 - Short title

This clause provides for the Bill to be cited as the Australian Crime Commission (National Policing Information Charges) Act 2015 after its enactment.

Clause 2 - Commencement

This clause set outs when the various parts of the Bill are to commence. 

Item 1 in the table provides that the whole of this Bill will commence at the same time as the Consolidation Bill commences.   It also provides that this Bill will not commence at all if the Consolidation Bill does not commence.

This is necessary to ensure a charge will only be able to be imposed after the provisions in the Consolidation Bill that provide the machinery for the charge commence.

Clause 3 - External Territories

This clause provides that the Act will extend to every external Territory of Australia.

Clause 4 - Property of a State

This clause ensures that charges imposed under this Bill are not taken to be imposed on property of any kind belonging to a State.  

To avoid doubt, clause 5 clarifies that ‘property of any kind belonging to a State’ has the same meaning as in section 114 of the Constitution.

Nothing under this clause would prevent a State voluntarily paying charges imposed by this Bill.

Clause 5 - Definitions

This clause provides definitions for the Bill.

‘Board’ is defined to have the same meaning as in the Australian Crime Commission Act 2002 (ACC Act).   Section 4 of the ACC Act defines ‘Board’ to mean the Board of the ACC, which is established by section 7B of the ACC Act. 

‘National policing information’ is defined to have the same meaning as in the Australian Crime Commission Act 2002 .   The Consolidation Bill will amend  the ACC Act to insert a definition of ‘national policing information’ into section 4 of the ACC Act, which is intended to capture all of the functions currently performed by CrimTrac, and all of the CrimTrac-like functions the merged agency may perform in the future.

‘National policing information charge’ is defined as a charge imposed by clause  6 of this Bill for applications for, and the provision of, national policing information services.

‘Property of any kind belonging to a State’ is defined to have the same meaning as in section 114 of the Constitution for the purpose of clause 4 of this Bill.

Clause 6 - Imposition of national policing information charges

This clause imposes charges, as taxes, on applications to the ACC for, and provision by the ACC of, national policing information services. 

Currently, the only service for which CrimTrac charges is the provision of national criminal history checks through the NPCS.   

This Bill creates a framework that would allow charges to be imposed for criminal history checking as well as other national policing information services. 

This approach ensures the self-funded CrimTrac business model will be able to continue to meet the emerging information technology needs of police as national policing information services evolve.

Clause 7 - Charge amounts

This clause creates a mechanism through which the Minister can determine the details of charges to be imposed as taxes by this Bill. 

Subclause 7(1) provides that the amount of a national policing information charge for and application for, or the provision of, a kind of national policing information service is the amount determined by the Minister by legislative instrument. 

It is intended by this provision that the Minister be able to determine different amounts for different kinds of national policing information services.

Subclause 7(2) clarifies that, in making the instrument under subclause 7(1) the Minister may determine different amounts (including a nil amount) of charge for different classes of persons in relation to the same kind of service. 

This is necessary to allow different charges to apply to different classes of persons in some circumstances.  For example, while a charge applies for criminal history checks sought for general employment screening purposes, police are not currently required to pay CrimTrac for checks that are for operational policing purposes.  It is intended that these arrangement be allowed to continue. 

Subclause 7(3) requires the Minister to have regard to any recommendation made by the ACC Board under subsection 7C(7) of the ACC Act, to be introduced by the Consolidation Bill, in determining national policing information charges.

The amount of charges for criminal history checks is currently set by the CrimTrac Board following consultation with and the agreement of police jurisdictions.   The amount of this charge is a crucial component of the funding model that supports the CrimTrac business model and provision of national policing information services to police.   It is necessary that the Board retain the ability the CrimTrac Board currently has to influence the amount of charges, the services they apply to and the persons that must pay them.  The mechanism established under subclause 7(3) of this Bill and subsection 7C(7) of the ACC Act will ensure this continues. 

Subclauses 7(1) and (3) are also intended to provide scope for the Minister to make an initial determination at the commencement of this Bill, prior to the Board having made an initial recommendation under subsection 7C(7) of the ACC Act.

Clause 8 - Exemption from charge s

This clause provides that a national policing information charge is not payable by a person if the provision of the service to the person is subject to fee for service arrangements under section 15 of the ACC Act.

The Consolidation Bill would insert a new subsection 15(1) into the ACC Act that will enable the ACC to charge a fee for goods or services that it provides in the course of performing its national policing information functions. 

The fees to be imposed for services under subsection 15(1) of the ACC Act must be reasonably related to the cost of providing that service.  Accordingly, they cannot be used to subsidise the costs of providing other services to police, as is intended to be the case with revenue generated under the charges imposed under clause 6 of this Bill. 

This clause ensures there can be no overlap in fees and charges that would result in a person being subject to both a fee and a charge for the same service.