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Tuesday, 28 March 2006
Page: 146

Mr HUNT (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage) (5:59 PM) —I rise to speak on the Bankruptcy Legislation Amendment (Fees and Charges) Bill 2006. I thank the member for Gellibrand for her characteristically eloquent contribution, although it was an uncharacteristically uncharitable contribution when she described the bill as being less than riveting. It does in many ways represent an important development, and I am sure that practitioners in the field will be enthused, excited and enlightened by its introduction and passage.

In short, the bill facilitates the implementation of the government’s cost recovery policy in providing personal insolvency services. It comes as a result of extensive consultation and as a result of a cost recovery review. It is very significant to note that further consultations will occur as the bill is implemented and as part of an ongoing structure of assessment, review and refinement. So there has been consultation and there will continue to be consultation.

In particular, the amendments proposed in this bill will allow the government to progress financial policy through the creation of legislative instruments at the appropriate time. In practice, this will provide a flexible and accountable way of reflecting the costs of providing personal insolvency services to the community. In addition, the bill contains other amendments which will enhance the delivery of personal insolvency services, including effective electronic service delivery, and there are some minor technical amendments to the Bankruptcy Act 1966.

The member for Gellibrand raised one clear point—the notion that the provisions in the bill should apply only to the notion of cost recovery and that they should not form the basis for the levying of an effective tax by stealth. We on the government side absolutely agree. We believe that there are adequate safeguards. We will oversee and enforce them rigorously, and without fear or favour. So the point that has been made is legitimate and fair: this should be a cost recovery measure; cost recovery should be full but it should not be excessive. We accept that proposition. It underpins the very philosophy with which we are proceeding. We have made sure that there are adequate safeguards in place. We will oversee them, and we will enforce them rigorously. So I accept those points that were made by the member for Gellibrand.

I thank both the member for Gellibrand and other members who have had input into the bill, not just through the course of the debate but through the course of preparation. I also thank all of those members of the financial services community who have had input into the drafting and preparation of the bill. In particular, I thank the officers of the Attorney-General’s Department for their role in helping to develop this legislation. I thank all of those involved in the preparation of the bill and in the debate, and I commend the bill to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Ordered that the bill be reported to the House without amendment.