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Wednesday, 8 December 2004
Page: 2

Senator ELLISON (Minister for Justice and Customs) (9:33 AM) —I table the explanatory memoranda relating to the bills and move:

That these bills be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speeches incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted

The speeches read as follows—

Australian Sports Commission Amendment Bill 2004

The purpose of the Australian Sports Commission Amendment Bill 2004 (the Bill) is to facilitate the more effective use of Customs information in the fight against drugs in sport. This information will normally concern importation or attempted importation by an athlete or by a member of an athlete's support personnel, such as a coach, of a prohibited sports substance uncovered through measures such as postal intercepts or discovery on a person at Australia's borders.

In 1999 the Australian Sports Commission Act was amended to enable Customs to pass this information to the Executive Director of the Australian Sports Commission (ASC). The provisions were thought at the time to be adequate. However, legal opinion obtained earlier this year in the context of doping allegations against a number of cyclists now indicates that the practical use of these provisions is more restrictive than first thought.

If the Executive Director is satisfied that the anti-doping policy of the sporting organisation to which the athlete belongs is “likely” to have been breached and the Customs information is “likely” to assist the organisation in determining whether to take action in accordance with its anti-doping policy, the Executive Director can then pass the information to the organisation. This limits the ASC's ability to pass relevant information to sporting organisations. For example, some Customs information, such as the fact that a postal article addressed to a particular person was intercepted, may not by itself be sufficient to enable the Executive Director to be so satisfied.

In addition, the current legislative provisions impose significant limits on the use that can be made of the information by the recipient organisation. For example, even if the Customs information is able to be disclosed by the Executive Director to the sporting organisation, the organisation is precluded from using that information in any investigation, inquiry or prosecution under its anti-doping policy or rules.

Finally, the current provisions are silent on fundamental “natural justice” protections for athletes, such as the right to be notified that the Executive Director proposes to disclose Customs information to the athlete's sporting organisation, and the athlete being given the opportunity to make a submission to the Executive Director before the information is passed to the sporting organisation.

It is also important to note that in the period since 1999 Australia has affirmed its commitment to the World Anti-Doping Code, which was released in March 2003 and is now being implemented by sporting organisations worldwide. Australia, along with 157 other countries, supports the Code through the Copenhagen Declaration on Anti-Doping in Sport.

Australia's support for the Code and the Copenhagen Declaration includes our commitment to a comprehensive anti-doping framework. The ready availability of Customs information for use in anti-doping investigations and hearings is an essential element of such a framework.

Moving to the proposed amendments, they will address the restrictions in the current provisions by enabling the Executive Director of the ASC to authorise the disclosure of Customs information where the Executive Director is satisfied that it should be used or disclosed for permitted anti-doping purposes of the relevant sporting organisation. Permitted anti doping purposes means any of:

(a) investigating whether an anti-doping policy of the ASC or a sporting organisation has been breached;

(b) determining whether to take action under an anti-doping policy of the ASC or a sporting organisation;

(c) determining what action to take under an anti-doping policy of the ASC or a sporting organisation;

(d) taking action under an anti-doping policy of the ASC or a sporting organisation; or

(e) taking, or participating in, any proceedings relating to action that has been taken under an anti-doping policy of the ASC or a sporting organisation.

The amendments provide that the ASC Executive Director, before disclosing information, must give written notification of the proposed disclosure to the person to whom the information relates, and give that person the opportunity to make a written submission about the proposed disclosure.

The amendments also contain some specific provisions about the disclosure of Customs information for the Australian Sports Commission's own internal anti-doping purposes.

In conclusion, the Australian Sports Commission Amendment Bill will advance Australia's existing anti-doping framework and affirm Australia's commitment to achieving a sporting environment free from prohibited substances.


Criminal Code Amendment (Trafficking in Persons Offences) Bill 2004

This Bill, the Criminal Code Amendment (Trafficking in Persons Offences) Bill 2004, amends the Criminal Code Act 1995 and the Telecommunications (Interception) Act 1979.

On 13 October 2003, the Australian Government announced a $20 million package of measures to combat trafficking in persons.

Many measures from that package have already been implemented.

An important part of the 2003 package was a thorough legislative review.

The review carefully analysed Australia's anti-trafficking laws to identify what changes were needed to fully and comprehensively criminalise trafficking in persons. This Bill is the result of that review, and represents part of the Government's demonstrated and continued commitment to the fight against trafficking in persons.

The Bill comprehensively criminalises all aspects of this abhorrent crime by introducing a number of new and extended trafficking in persons offences.

It creates a specific offence where the trafficker transports their victim into Australia by using force, threats or deception.

The penalty for the new trafficking offence carries a penalty of 12 years imprisonment. This is set at the same penalty as blackmail.

An aggravated trafficking offence applies where a victim is also exploited, subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, or endangered.

The aggravated offence carries a tougher penalty of 20 years imprisonment and is comparable to penalties for kidnapping and serious assault.

The new trafficking in children offence is also punishable by a tougher penalty of 20 years imprisonment.

This reflects the particularly repugnant nature of trafficking in children.

The Bill also creates new offences for trafficking in persons activities that occur wholly within Australia.

The domestic trafficking offences will ensure each and every participant in the `chain' of exploitation of the victim can be prosecuted for that participation.

The domestic trafficking offence is punishable by 12 years imprisonment, with a higher penalty of 20 years imprisonment for the aggravated offence where the victim is also exploited, subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, or endangered.

The Bill also introduces the offence of debt bondage.

This offence prevents traffickers from using unfair debt contracts and other similar arrangements to force victims into providing sexual services or other labour to pay off large debts supposedly incurred by the trafficker in transporting the victim to Australia.

This new offence will not criminalise legitimate employment arrangements that are not exploitative or unfair.

The debt bondage offence has a penalty of 12 months imprisonment with an aggravated offence where the victim is under 18 years.

A tougher penalty of two years imprisonment for the child offence reflects the abhorrence of forcing a child into debt bondage.

The Bill also extends an existing offence to capture traffickers who induce victims to be transported to Australia by deceiving them about the conditions of their employment.

To ensure law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies can effectively investigate and prosecute these heinous acts, the Bill provides that telecommunications interception warrants are available under the Telecommunications (Interception) Act 1979 for the new serious offences.

People trafficking is a growing form of transnational crime that is receiving increasing attention throughout the world.

Australia has a moral obligation to ensure that it has every possible measure in place to fight the trade in human beings and investigate and prosecute traffickers.

The Bill is a significant step. It ensures Australia meets, and actually exceeds its obligations under the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children.

Once this bill is passed, the Australian Government will be able to meet its commitment to ratify the protocol.

The offences ensure that all aspects of trafficking in persons are criminalised in Australia—from the use of deception to recruit a trafficking victim, through the transportation of a victim to Australia through the use of threats, force or deception, to receipt and exploitation of a victim.

The new offences complement Australia's existing package of measures, and will ensure Australia remains a world leader in the fight against trafficking in persons.

Ordered that further consideration of these bills be adjourned to the first day of the next period of sittings in accordance with standing order 111.

Ordered that the bills be listed on the Notice Paper as separate orders of the day.