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Thursday, 7 December 2017
Page: 10158


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (19:03): I thank honourable senators for their contributions to the debate on this bill which will strengthen protections against Australian businesses being misused for money laundering or the financing of terrorism. In relation to what Senator O'Neill has lately had to say, I simply make this point. Terrorism financing and money laundering is a complex area, as Senator O'Neill herself has just said. This bill deals with certain particular aspects of the problem. The government introduced other legislation earlier in the year to deal with other aspects of the problem, so the suggestion that the bill is piecemeal is misconceived because it focuses on certain particular aspects of the problem. Other aspects of the problem are dealt with by other legislation.

I should note the role of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee in its work in reviewing the provisions of the bill. It recommended a number of amendments which the government adopted. They were moved by the Minister for Justice in the House of Representatives and have been incorporated into the bill currently before the Senate. I thank the committee for its work in considering the bill. The report recognises that submitters were generally positive about the provisions of the bill and that the bill would bring about an improvement in the operation of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act.

The bill introduces, as I said at the start, a first phase of reforms to ensure that Australia's AMLCTF Act and the regulatory framework it established remains effective against the evolving threats of money laundering, financing of terrorism and other serious financial offences. Legislation is, of course, only part of the answer. Efforts to protect Australia's financial system from serious crime require the support of the private sector. The government will continue to work closely with all affected industry sectors to ensure that this bill and Australia's anti-money-laundering and counterterrorism financing regime effectively achieve this goal.

Finally, I record my thanks to my junior minister, the Hon. Michael Keenan, the Minister for Justice and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Counter-Terrorism, for his enormous investment of industry and hard work into reforming the law in this area. I move that the bill be now read a second time.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.