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Thursday, 12 December 2002
Page: 7983

Senator COONAN (Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer) (8:34 PM) —I thank senators for their contributions. I would just like to place on record that the Trade Practices Amendment (Liability for Recreational Services) Bill 2002 is an important government initiative that will assist in ensuring available and affordable public liability insurance for the Australian community. The bill implements a commitment made by the Commonwealth at the ministerial meeting on public liability insurance on 30 May this year. At that meeting the Commonwealth agreed to legislate to allow self-assumption of risk for people who choose to participate in inherently risky activities such as adventure tourism and sports.

The Trade Practices Act is important legislation which protects consumers from unfair trading practices and confers rights upon consumers acquiring goods and services. However, the act was never intended to provide a substitute for negligence actions where people were killed or suffered serious injuries, except in limited specific areas dealing with product safety. So the purpose of this bill is to guarantee that the objective of the Trade Practices Act is not subverted for an improper purpose. Its passage will complement state and territory initiatives designed to ensure that outcomes in negligence actions reflect community expectations. The government recognises the need to strike an appropriate balance between the needs of business and the protection of consumers. This bill is a significant step towards ensuring that Australia's laws remain relevant to our economic and social environment so that business and consumers alike will benefit from fair outcomes in the marketplace. I commend the bill.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.