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Thursday, 12 December 2002
Page: 7991

Senator COONAN (Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer) (9:21 PM) —The definition of recreational services presently used in the Trade Practices Amendment (Liability for Recreational Services) Bill 2002 is broad in its terms and is likely to encompass, we think, most activities in relation to which it is intended to ensure that waivers can be effectively used. The proposed amendment will require the provider of every sport or activity to make a judgment about whether the activity involves physical risk, as you have said, and whether that risk is of a significant degree. The use of waivers in such circumstances would become, I think, a rather speculative exercise and the bill is likely to not achieve its purpose, or to have little impact in underpinning the state and territory reforms that I have referred to which are designed to ameliorate the effects of the spiralling public liability crisis.

If an activity sought to have the status of its waivers made certain by having itself prescribed in regulations, under paragraph (b) of the definition in the Australian Democrat amendment, it would become subject to the onerous requirements established by proposed amendment (4). It seems, from the way we are looking at it, that every waiver would have to be signed by the participant in the activity, and the signed form would need to be retained until the service provider was satisfied that there was no risk of litigation. The intent and application of subparagraph (b)(iii) are unclear. Is the intent, for instance, to require suppliers of recreational services to ban the use of tobacco products by participants in the activity? Would cigarette smokers be banned from horse trail rides and so forth? For those reasons, the government is not attracted to this amendment.

Question negatived.