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Pregnancy Counselling (Truth in Advertising) Bill 2006 [2008]

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2004-2005-2006

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SENATE

 

 

 

 

 

PREGNANCY COUNSELLING (TRUTH IN ADVERTISING) BILL 2006

 

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 



PREGNANCY COUNSELLING (TRUTH IN ADVERTISING) BILL 2006

 

 

GENERAL OUTLINE

 

This bill prohibits misleading and deceptive advertising and notification of pregnancy counselling services which do not charge for the information they provide. Such services are currently not covered by the Trade Practices Act 1974 because they usually do not charge for the information they provide.

 

It subjects pregnancy counselling organisations to the same misleading and deceptive advertising laws to which organisations covered by the Trade Practices Act 1974 are subject.

 

It would require services which do not provide referrals for terminations of pregnancy to declare this in their advertising and notification material, and services which do provide referrals for terminations to state that they refer for all options.

 

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT

 

The amendments in this Bill have no financial impact on Government revenue.

 

 

NOTES ON CLAUSES

 

PART 1 - PRELIMINARY

 

Clause 1 Short title

 

This clause provides for the Act, when it is enacted, to be cited as the Pregnancy Counselling (Truth in Advertising) Act 2006

 

Clause 2 Commencement

 

This clause provides for the commencement of the Act on the day on which it receives the Royal Assent.

 

Clause 3 Definitions

 

This clause provides for definitions for non-directive pregnancy counselling service, pregnancy counselling service, and termination of pregnancy.

 

Clause 4 Objects

 

This clause states that the objects of this Bill principally are to prohibit misleading and deceptive advertising of pregnancy counselling services; promote transparency and full choice in the notification and advertising of pregnancy counselling services; improve public health; and minimise the difficulties associated with obtaining advice in relation to an unplanned pregnancy.

 

 

PART 2 - MISLEADING ADVERTISING AND NOTIFICATION

 

Clause 5 Misleading advertising or notification of pregnancy counselling services

 

This clause states that pregnancy counselling services (whether the information is provided in person or over the telephone) must not publish, distribute, display or broadcast, by internet, television, telephone, radio or like service, or by post, any material that is misleading or deceptive, or likely to mislead or deceive.

 

It states that it is a defence if it is proved that those involved took no part in determining the content of the material, and could not reasonably be expected to have known that the material was inaccurate or misleading.

 

It states that this section applies whether the service is provided free of charge or for a fee.

 

The penalties for breaching this clause are set at a maximum of 2,000 penalty units for an individual, and a maximum of 10,000 penalty units for a body corporate.

 

Clause 6 Requirements for advertising or notification of pregnancy counselling services

 

This clause requires that all pregnancy counselling services which do not provide referrals for terminations of pregnancy must include in any advertising or notification material a statement that "This service does not provide referrals for terminations of pregnancy" or a like statement.

 

It also requires that all pregnancy counselling services which provide referrals for terminations of pregnancy, adoption services and services to assist women who choose to continue their pregnancy, must include in any advertising or notification material a statement that "This service does provide referrals for all pregnancy options" or a like statement.

 

The penalties for breaching this clause are set at a maximum of 2,000 penalty units for an individual, and a maximum of 10,000 penalty units for a body corporate.

 

Clause 7 Grant of Commonwealth financial assistance not payable where a pregnancy counselling service engages in misleading or deceptive conduct

 

This clause states that a grant of Commonwealth financial assistance is not payable for the duration of a pregnancy counselling organisation's engagement in misleading conduct.

 

Clause 8 Minister to report annually on payments to and performance of pregnancy counselling services

 

This clause states that where a payment or a grant of financial assistance is made by the Commonwealth - either to a State where the payment is made to a pregnancy counselling service, or directly to the service provider, the Minister must report annually on:

-           the amount of each payment to each State and each pregnancy counselling service provider; and

-           the name of each service provider receiving a payment; and

-           the policy that each service provider advocates (ie whether it is a non-directive service which provides referrals for all pregnancy options or a service which does not provide referrals for terminations of pregnancy).

 

Clause 9 Disclosure of policy by pregnancy counselling service a condition of financial assistance

 

This clause states that a pregnancy counselling service is ineligible to receive a payment or a grant of financial assistance from the Commonwealth unless it first discloses in any contract made after the commencement of this Act with the Commonwealth or with a State whether it is a non-directive service which provides referrals for all pregnancy options or a service which does not provide referrals for terminations of pregnancy.

 

Clause 10 Regulations

 

This clause states that the Governor-General may make regulations prescribing matters either required or permitted by this Act to be prescribed, or necessary or convenient to be prescribed for carrying out or giving effect to this Act.