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Friday, 31 May 1996
Page: 1553


Senator KEMP (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Social Security) —by leave—I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:

That the order of the Senate of 29 November 1994, relating to the consideration of legislation, not apply to the Migration Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 1996.


Senator KEMP —I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:

That the order of the Senate of 29 November 1994, relating to the consideration of legislation, not apply to the Parliamentary Contributory Superannuation Amendment Bill 1996.


Senator KEMP —I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:

That the order of the Senate of 29 November 1994, relating to the consideration of legislation, not apply to the following bills:

Customs Amendment Bill 1996

Customs Tariff Amendment Bill (No. 1) 1996.

I also table statements of reasons justifying the need for these bills to be considered during this sitting. I seek leave to have the statements incorporated in Hansard .

Leave granted.

The statements read as follows

Statement of reasons for introduction and passage in 1996 winter sittings

Migration Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 1996

Purpose of proposed bill

The proposed Bill will make amendments to the provisions in the Migration Act 1958 (the Act) relating to the Migration Agents Registration Scheme (MARS).

MARS was established to provide consumer protection for visa applicants from unscrupulous and/or incompetent migration agents. The scheme's main elements are to act as a register of agents and assess their proficiency, and to administer and enforce a legally binding code of conduct to guide agents in their business activities.

The proposed amendments will ensure that MARS can continue beyond 21 September 1996.

Reasons for introduction and passage in 1996 winter sittings

Subsection 333(1) of the MARS provisions contains a statutory sunset provision which will automatically terminate the entire scheme on 21 September 1996. The sunset provision was originally designed to allow MARS to run for an initial three years (until September 1995) but was extended for one year by the Migration Legislation Amendment Act (No. 5) 1995. The one year extension to allow time for the JSCM to report on the operation of MARS and for the government to make a considered response.

To enable MARS to continue after 21 September 1996, it is essential that the migration act be amended before that date. Legal advice indicates that it will not be possible to revive the existing registration scheme if the sunset clause is not amended before 21 September 1996 and that it may be necessary to refund substantial sums which have been paid as migration agent registration fees.

It is intended that the scheme be extended for one year. This will allow a further review of the scheme with particular emphasis on the possibility that it might be replaced by enhanced self-regulation.

Parliamentary Contributory Superannuation Amendment Bill

Statement of reasons for introduction and passage in the 1996 winter sittings

Under the provisions of the Act, parliamentary pensions are fixed as a percentage of parliamentary salaries payable to serving members from time to time. This includes the additional pensions payable for service as a minister, which are fixed as a percentage of the additional salaries payable to current ministers.

The reduction in the additional salary for non-cabinet ministers, with effect from 11 March 1996, could have had the effect of reducing the accrued benefits of certain scheme members, including the pensions of former members, and spouses of deceased former members, where the members held office as non-cabinet ministers.

The bill will prevent a decrease in accrued parliamentary pension entitlements resulting from the new ministerial salary arrangements. Provisions in the Bill have retrospective commencement from 2 March 1996, thus necessitating introduction of the Bill and its passage in the winter sittings.

Delay in dealing with the bill would result in overpayments being made to certain parliamentary pensioners.

Customs Amendment Bill 1996

Statement of reasons for introduction and passage during the 1996 winter sittings

This bill implements the changes to the tariff concession system in part XVA of the Customs Act 1901, foreshadowed in December 1995. It also provides for the revocation of all concession instruments written to policy by-law items 43, 45, 46, 52 and 56 of schedule 4 to the Customs Tariff Act 1995 which was announced by the government on 8 May 1996.

The bill is intended to achieve the revenue savings announced in December 1995, which are scheduled to commence from 1 July 1996. This can only be attained by the consideration of this bill in the current sittings of parliament. Further, by allowing the revocation of policy by-law concessional instruments proposed in the bill, this measure will ensure that necessary administrative restructuring of the policy by-law system occurs.

If this bill is not dealt with in these sittings, the government's revenue target will not be achieved, and consideration may need to e given to other budgetary savings to ensure that the budget deficit is eliminated within the two year period announced.

Delay will also create uncertainty in the business community, where the expectations are that the changes will be in place on 1 July this year, as announced.

The need for early amendments to the tariff concession system was anticipated, but the intervention of the election and announcements of further changes to the tariff concession system during the election period, to a large extent addressed in the Customs Tariff Amendment Bill (No. 1) 1996, prevented earlier action being taken.

Customs Tariff Amendment Bill (No. 1) 1996

Statement of reasons for introduction and passage during the 1996 winter sittings

This bill represents the outcome of initiatives arising from the announcements made in the context of the 1996 federal election.

The bill gives effect to the Customs Tariff duty rate changes announced on 8 May 1996. The bill removes item 11 of schedule 4 to the Customs Tariff Act 1995, which is now redundant. It changes from `free' to `3%' the concessional duty rate applying to Tariff Concession Orders under part XVA of the customs act (as delivered by items 19 and 50 of schedule 4 to the Customs Tariff Act 1995) and increases by the same amount the duty applying to policy by-law items 47, 55, 57 and 60. The concessional rate of duty for the three policy by-law items which are to be administered on a project basis (items 45, 46 and 56) will remain at `free', and the two policy by-law items (items 43 and 52) relating to split consignments of whole goods unable to be transported on a single vessel or aircraft because of the size of the goods or because of an inadvertent delay in shipment will retain the duty rate currently applicable for the whole goods stock.

If this bill is not dealt with in these sittings, there will be a delay in the implementation of the measures which will cause a shortfall in revenue collected stock. This will have a significant impact on the government's budget deficit reduction program. Backdating implementation to 1 July 1996 in a later bill is not considered feasible.

The need for the amendments was not foreseen because the changes arose as a consequence of initiatives announced during the election campaign and developed since then.