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Thursday, 9 May 1985
Page: 1982


Mr LIONEL BOWEN (Attorney-General)(4.31) —I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

This Bill, the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill (No. 1), continues the practice of introducing an omnibus Bill into each period of sittings of the Parliament as an expeditious way of making a large number of non-contentious amendments. Some of the amendments made by this Bill tidy up, correct and up-date existing legislation. Other amendments are of minor policy significance or are matters of routine administration. The Bill amends some 65 Acts to remove obsolete provisions relating to the rights of Commonwealth public servants. Those provisions were made redundant by the repeal on 15 March 1981 of the Officers' Rights Declaration Act 1928. Officers' rights are now preserved by section 87TA of the Public Service Act 1922.

Administrative changes to the Commonwealth Public Service were made following the elections last year. The changes included the renaming of departments, the creation of a new department and the transfer of functions. Amendments to 25 Acts have been included in the Bill as a consequence of these changes to the machinery of government. The Bill also amends a number of Acts by removing any references to 'British subject' by reason of the passage in 1984 of the Australian Citizenship Amendment Act 1984. Also, in accordance with Government policy, the Bill amends a number of Acts by replacing gender specific terminology with epicene terms. Amendments are proposed to bring certain penalties in legislation up to date with present economic values and present day perceptions of the nature of the offences to which they relate. Many of the proposed amendments will be self-evident or sufficiently explained by the explanatory memorandum circulated with the Bill. I propose to confine my comments to addressing the more noteworthy changes included in this Bill.

Antarctic Treaty (Environment Protection) Act 1980

Consistent with long standing Australian support for the conservation of Antarctic fauna and flora, the amendment to the Antarctic Treaty (Environment Protection) Act 1980 enables the ratification of the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals.

Australian Institute of Marine Science Act 1972

The amendment will permit the making of standing acting appointments to the Australian Institute of Marine Science, thus obviating the need for Executive Council action to be taken in relation to every absence of the Director.

Australian Security Intelligence Organization Act 1979

The Act currently requires the Security Appeals Tribunal, subject to one qualification, to give copies of its findings to the applicant, to the Australian Security Intelligence Organization and to the Commonwealth agency concerned. The Tribunal has recommended that it should have a discretion to furnish copies of its findings to the Attorney-General. The Government accepts the spirit of the recommendation, but considers that the Attorney-General should be given a copy of the findings in every case because he is responsible for ASIO and for the administration of the Act. The Act is amended accordingly.

Australian Tourist Commission Act 1967

The amendment empowers the Commission to invest its funds, subject to Division 2 of Part XI of the Audit Act 1901, instead of Division 3 of Part XI as at present. This will enable the Commission to make the best possible use of any surplus funds and to keep its accounts in accordance with normal commercial practice.

Bass Strait Freight Adjustment Levy Collection Act 1984

The amendments permit adjustment levies imposed under this scheme to be recovered in the same way as if they were excise duties. Also, the responsible Minister may notify proposed levy adjustment alterations when Parliament is not sitting.

Bounty (Electric Motors) Act 1984

The amendment will ensure that the value added figure applied to a bountiable motor includes the cost of any process or service-if provided by the manufacturer at registered premises-unless research, development or design costs apply. These latter costs, if incurred in Australia, attract a bounty irrespective of whether the work was undertaken on registered premises.

Cocos (Keeling) Islands Act 1955

The amendment will enable the making of ordinances for the operation of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands and will provide easier access to that Court for members of the public

Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904

The amendments concern the financial accounting and reporting requirements under Part VIIIAA of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904 for registered organisations and their branches. Organisations or branches whose annual incomes do not exceed $10,000 will be able to apply to the Industrial Registrar for a certificate of exemption from the existing financial and reporting requirements of the aforesaid Part of the Act in relation to accounts. Instead, less onerous and costly requirements will apply to those bodies.

Defence Act 1903

Under the common law, members of the Defence Force cannot sue the Commonwealth for moneys owing to them in respect of their service. Section 12 of the Defence Act 1903 varies this position to a limited extent by permitting members to sue after leaving the Defence Force. This situation is changed by extending to serving members of the Defence Force the right to sue. Because garnishee proceedings do not lie against the Crown this procedure is not available to creditors of members of the Defence Force. The amendments create similar statutory rights and obligations regarding garnishee proceedings in relation to members of the Defence Force to those that apply to other Commonwealth employees. The Bill also makes other amendments to this Act.

Defence Force Discipline Act 1982

The provisions of this Act provide for the issue of summonses and warrants on the basis of sworn information or affidavit. The amendments power authorised officers of the Defence Force to swear informations. Under the Act a commanding officer may direct that a subordinate summary authority is not to deal with a particular charge against a person. The amendments will enable a commanding officer to direct that a subordinate summary authority is not to deal with a class of cases. There is a requirement under the Act that legal officers, to whom convictions by summary authorities are referred for legal advice, should be authorised or appointed for this purpose. The amendments omit the requirement for such authorisation or appointment as this will create an unjustifiable administrative burden.

Federal Court of Australia Act 1976

Following consultation with the Northern Territory Government amendments to the Act are proposed to ensure that appeals from the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory will lie to the Northern Territory Court of Appeal instead of the Federal Court of Australia. The amendment is expressed to come into operation on a date to be fixed by proclamation. A date will be fixed after appropriate consultation with the Northern Territory Government and after that Government has taken the necessary steps to establish its Court of Appeal.

Health Insurance Act 1973

A number of amendments to the Health Insurance Act are being made as a consequence of the replacement of the Capital Territory Health Commission by the Australian Capital Territory Health Authority, which was effected by the Health Services Ordinance 1985.

Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976

The amendments provide for wrecks and articles lying above the low-water line to be protected under section 5 of the Act provided the Government of the State concerned has no objection. Provison is made for States including the Northern Territory and Norfolk Island to make a general declaration on all wrecks over 75 years old; in addition, the time limit for a provisional declaration is extended to five years and the protected zone of a shipwreck increased to 200 hectares. The amendments also make provision for wrecks straddling Commonwealth-State waters.

Insurance Contracts Act 1984

The amendments overcome minor problems relating to the provision of information or advice to insurers. The amendments should facilitate the operation of the Act when it comes into operation later this year.

Immigration (Guardianship of Children) Act 1946

The amendments will enable the Minister to provide guardianship to minors, who have entered Australia with a supporting relative, when care arrangements have broken down. The consent of the supporting relative is required. A person whose interests are affected by a guardianship decision may apply for a review of the decision by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Life Insurance Act 1945

The main amendment will enable life offices to transact business, relating to the issue of annuities for purposes of roll-over of lump sum termination payments, in the same statutory fund in which superannuation schemes are transacted.

Management and Investment Companies Act 1983

The principal amendments to this Act increase the time limit applying for the filing of annual returns by licensed management investment companies, to allow a more reasonable period for compliance. There is a consequential change in the expiry date for licences.

National Gallery Act 1975

A number of amendments are proposed which will enable the Australian National Gallery to be more efficiently administered, enable it to undertake additional functions and activities, and establish an Australian National Gallery Fund with a power to invest funds. The need for the amendments, which are largely of an administrative and machinery nature, has become apparent now that the Gallery has been operating for more than two years.

Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983

The amendments give effect to minor technical amendments recently adopted by the Marine Environment Protection Committee of the International Maritime Organisation's International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973-78.

Sex Discrimination Act 1984

The amendment will enable 'class' exemptions from the Act to be granted to avoid a multiplicity of applications for exemption in certain circumstances.

Trade Union Training Authority Act 1975

The Bill provides for a number of amendments to overcome administrative problems which have arisen since the Act was extensively amended in 1978. The proposed amendments have the general support of the National Labour Consultative Council. I commend the Bill to the House.

Bill (on motion by Mr Everingham) adjourned.