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Thursday, 22 August 1985
Page: 184


Senator BUTTON (Leader of the Government in the Senate) —I seek leave to have the text of a statement concerning the Government's legislative program for the Budget sittings 1985 incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The statement read as follows-

THE GOVERNMENT'S LEGISLATIVE PROGRAM

As a Government we will be legislating in this session for a very different Australia from that which we faced when first elected in 1983.

The policies we have followed, the legislative programs we have implemented have quite literally turned Australia around from the position it was facing when we assumed power.

On every indicator, the Australian economy and society, is in a better position than it has been for a decade.

We still, however, have a lot to do.

The legislative program for the budget sittings is a reasonably heavy and complicated one, and reflects the Government's commitment to reform.

I now outline our legislative program.

In the field of arts, heritage and the environment, we propose legislation to protect Australian cultural property by preventing the illegal import or export of cultural property. We want also to pass legislation clarifying the collection policy to be adopted by the Museum of Australia and the extent of the national collection to be housed in that museum.

The Attorney-General will be seeking passage of the Bill of rights package which will not only give effect in Australia to the international covenant on civil and political rights but will also establish a human rights and equal opportunity commission. Prohibitions on racial and sexual discrimination will be strengthened in other legislation.

Privacy legislation will be brought forward setting forth privacy principles in accordance with the recommendations of the Australian Law Reform Commission. In addition, and with the co-operation of the States, the Government plans to abolish the residual constitutional links between Australia and the United Kingdom. The Evidence Act will be amended to provide for the admissibility in Australia of evidence taken overseas. ASIO's legislation will be amended to implement recommendations of the Royal Commission on Australia's Security and Intelligence Agencies. We will enhance the operation and effectiveness of the Trade Practices Act. We will amend the companies and securities legislation to effect necessary reforms. A Bill will be introduced to improve the existing law related to the Jurisdictional Immunities of Foreign Governments and Agencies. The now anomalous provision in the Judiciary Act relating to legal aid for defendants charged with federal offences will be repealed.

In aviation, various regulatory changes will be accompanied by legislation to establish a statutory authority to plan, develop and operate Australia's major civil airports. The Government will also guarantee borrowings by Qantas for aircraft.

There will be substantial amendments to the Communications and Broadcasting Acts. Among other things, we will be clarifying the powers of the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal, and authorising OTC to form and invest in companies carrying on business relating to telecommunications.

In community services, we will legislate to set up our home and community care package.

In education, Bills will be introduced to provide for cost increases and appropriate grants for both government and non-government schools as well as to spread participation and equity program funding over 1986 and 1987. The structure and administration of the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission will be altered. Amendments will enable us to ensure the more efficient working of the Student Assistance Scheme, and amendments will be introduced to facilitate changes to overseas student charges.

In employment and industrial relations, we will take further steps to promote occupational health and safety.

Superannuation provisions for members of Parliament will be revised.

In health, the future role of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories will be defined in law. Further changes will be made to health legislation, particularly to facilitate reciprocal health care agreements with other countries, and to modify existing provisions concerning medicare offences and the disqualification of medical practitioners. We will also pass legislation introduced during the Autumn sitting period to provide financial assistance to the States and the Northern Territory for the tertiary education of nurses.

Procedures under the Citizenship Act will be changed.

Various stand-by duties and bounties will be modified. There will be customs and excise changes.

In Primary Industry, we are introducing legislation to improve the charging system for export inspection services. Comprehensive packages of bills are being introduced to deal with fisheries and with research funding for the wheat, dairy and grain legumes industries.

Some aspects of public service employment conditions will be changed.

A legislative basis will be provided for the operations of the Australian safeguards office. A successor to the Australian Atomic Energy Commission will be created.

We will move to give wider protection to information held by the national crime authority. We will also make changes to the broadcasting and electoral legislation arising from the second report of the Joint Select Committee on Electoral Reform.

In Trade, we will pass legislation to create an Australian trade commission. We will also upgrade the export market development grants scheme.

In Transport, legislation will be brought forward to register vehicle and license operators engaged in interstate transport and commerce as part of the implementation of the national road freight industry inquiry (the May Report).

Various aspects of the taxation laws will be amended.

A draft veteran's entitlement Bill was tabled in the Senate in the final week of the autumn sitting period, to enable wide-ranging consultations with all affected interest groups to proceed. The Bill altered if necessary to take account of the results of those consultations, will be introduced during this sitting period.

As is always the case unforeseen circumstances may cause changes to the program I have outlined.

However, it indicates the direction we will be taking during these sittings and consolidates the direction of reform established during the previous parliament.

I commend the program to the Senate and look forward to the assistance of honourable senators in its implementation.


Senator BUTTON —I move:

That the Senate take note of the statement.