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Tuesday, 2 February 2016
Page: 117


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (19:15): I table an addendum to the explanatory memorandum relating to the Omnibus Repeal Day (Spring 2015) Bill 2015 and I 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—

CRIMES LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (PROCEEDS OF CRIME AND OTHER MEASURES) BILL 2015

I am pleased to introduce the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Proceeds of Crime and Other Measures) Bill 2015, which contains a range of measures to improve and clarify Commonwealth criminal justice arrangements.

Non-conviction based confiscation scheme

Schedule 1 of the Bill contains amendments to the Proceeds of Crime Act to clarify the operation of that Act's non-conviction based confiscation scheme in light of recent court decisions.

The amendments clarify the principles a court should consider in granting a stay of confiscation proceedings where there are related criminal matters, and outlines the grounds on which a stay is not to be granted.

Whilst a court may still exercise its discretion to stay civil proceedings if it considers that it is in the interests of justice to do so, the amendments make it clear that it is not enough for a person to say that they, or someone else, may face charges or have to give evidence in a related criminal trial at a future date. There must be something more than that—the risk of prejudice must be explained to a court.

This Bill recognises that the right to a fair trial is of paramount importance in the criminal justice system. Hence the amendments clarify the civil court procedures available in Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings to reduce the risk of prejudice to an accused in related concurrent or subsequent criminal proceedings.

The amendments also strengthen protections against disclosure and use of material related to the confiscation proceedings in subsequent criminal proceedings.

Where a person is facing both proceeds of crime and criminal proceedings, the amendments reinforce the safeguards against the risk of prejudice. The amendments clarify that where a court makes an order prohibiting the disclosure of information to an authority, the information cannot be disclosed.

In addition, the Bill introduces a new provision to allow a court to order that proceedings under the Act be heard, in whole or in part, in closed court if necessary to prevent interference with the administration of criminal justice.

These measures enable the court to safeguard against the risk of prejudice to an accused in any related criminal proceedings where the court considers it necessary to do so.

The Bill also clarifies that any application for an exclusion order relating to a restraining order must be heard by a court and finalised prior to the hearing of a forfeiture application.

False dealing with accounting documents

Schedule 2 of the Bill amends the Criminal Code to create two new offences of false dealing with accounting documents.

This measure will strengthen Australia's compliance with the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. Article 8 of the Convention requires parties to create offences of false accounting for the purposes of foreign bribery. In 2012 the OECD Working Group on Bribery recommended that Australia increase the maximum sanctions against legal persons for false accounting under Commonwealth legislation.

The offences will criminalise conduct where a person:

makes, alters, destroys or conceals an accounting document, or fails to make an accounting document that the person is under a duty to make, and

either intends or is reckless to the fact that this conduct would facilitate, conceal or disguise the offender or another person receiving or giving a benefit, or another person incurring a loss, where that benefit or loss is not legitimately due.

The offences will apply both within Australia and overseas where constitutional power permits.

Serious drug offences

The amendments in Schedule 3 will make amendments to improve the clarity and efficacy of the serious drug offences. The amendments will do three things.

First, they will clarify the meaning of a number of terms in the definition of 'drug analogue' to ensure that it operates more effectively. The drug analogue clause ensures that the serious drug offences apply to substances that are structurally similar to listed controlled and border controlled drugs.

Secondly, they will clarify an ambiguity in the definition of 'drug analogue' about the circumstances in which a substance listed as a controlled drug can be a border controlled drug. Under these changes, a substance may be a drug analogue of a listed controlled drug, even if the substance is already listed as a border controlled drug (and vice versa).

Finally, the amendments in Schedule 3 will clarify that a process is 'manufacturing' where it converts a substance from one form into another. This will ensure that manufacturing processes which change the state or physical form of a substance, but which do not create a new substance, are caught within the various manufacturing offences in Division 305 and other associated offences.

These amendments continue to deliver on the Government's commitment to tackle serious and organised crime, including serious drug offending. The amendments will make sure that the serious drug offences in the Criminal Code operate effectively and without unnecessary technicalities. They build on the recent amendments to the serious drug offences contained in the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Powers, Offences and Other Measures) Act 2015 to improve our law enforcement and prosecution agencies' ability to disrupt the supply of illicit drugs.

Stronger, clearer and more effective legal frameworks to deal with illicit drugs are an important part of reducing Australia's growing addiction to drugs like ice. These drugs are mind-eating, personality-distorting and life-ending and their supply must be stopped.

Anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing

Schedule 4 of the Bill will make several amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing Act to remove operational constraints that have been identified by a number of law enforcement agencies.

The existing definition of ' foreign law enforcement agency ' in the Act will be amended to specifically include INTERPOL and Europol, and a new regulation-making power will be inserted to enable additional international bodies to be prescribed in future. This amendment will beneficially affect Australia's relations with foreign countries and international organisations by enabling timely and effective cooperation in the investigation of transnational and multi-jurisdictional crime.

Amendments will also be made to the secrecy and access provisions of the AML/CTF Act to clarify that information or documents obtained under section 49 of that Act can be disclosed onward, including for investigative purposes such as applications for warrants. This will support the proper performance of investigative and law enforcement functions by providing greater legislative certainty.

Schedule 4 will also list the Independent Commission Against Corruption of South Australia as a designated agency under the AML/CTF Act. This will enable ICAC SA to access AUSTRAC financial intelligence information, which will enhance its capacity to investigate corruption in public administration and bring it into line with the abilities of similar statutory bodies in all other states.

AusCheck—Information sharing

Schedule 5 of the Bill amends the AusCheck Act to enable AusCheck to directly share information with state and territory authorities and with a broader range of Commonwealth authorities.

Currently, AusCheck Scheme personal information can only be shared with the Commonwealth and relevant Commonwealth authorities with functions relating to law enforcement or national security. This prevents AusCheck from sharing relevant information with other Commonwealth agencies that are not traditionally considered to be law enforcement agencies, but which may require access to the information for law enforcement or national security purposes.

AusCheck is also unable to directly share information with relevant state and territory agencies. These restrictions are at odds with the significant role these agencies play in law enforcement and national security, and the collaborative approach necessary to combat the cross-border threats of terrorism and serious crime. This causes particular challenges for agencies that undertake law enforcement and national security operations at secure airport and maritime port areas, such as state- and territory-led police taskforces targeting drug importation.

Information sharing will continue to be limited to the performance of functions relating to law enforcement or national security, and be subjected to strong safeguards. Safeguards include criminal offences in section 15 of the AusCheck Act for the unlawful disclosure of AusCheck scheme personal information, the use of privacy notices to inform applicants and acquire consent for the collection and disclosure of their personal information, memoranda of understanding with relevant authorities and the AusCheck Guidelines for information sharing.

Conclusion

This Bill will enhance the ability of Commonwealth agencies to investigate and prosecute criminal offences, and seeks to ensure that the Commonwealth can effectively target and confiscate proceeds of crime. It will better address law enforcement issues and national security risks through improved information sharing, and it will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of various laws relating to criminal justice administration.

OMNIBUS REPEAL DAY (SPRING 2015) BILL 2015

Mr Speaker, today I am introducing the Omnibus Repeal Day (Spring 2015) Bill 2015, the Amending Acts 1990 to 1999 Repeal Bill 2015 and the Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 3) 2015.

These Bills are a part of the Government's efforts to clean up the Commonwealth's statute book. Collectively, these three Repeal Day Bills will repeal over 900 Commonwealth Acts, making it easier for users of Commonwealth legislation to find and access regulations.

Mr Speaker, the Omnibus Bill is a whole-of-government initiative to amend or repeal legislation that is not the subject of individual stand-alone bills.

This Omnibus Bill alone will amend or repeal legislation across 14 Commonwealth departments. Much of this legislation is either spent or redundant and has remained on the Commonwealth's statute book well after fulfilling its purpose.

For example, the Omnibus Bill will repeal the Wool International Act 1993 and the Wool International Privatisation Act 1999 from the Agriculture and Water Resources portfolio. These two Acts are both redundant because WoolStock Australia Limited was wound up and delisted from the Australian Stock Exchange in 2001.

The Omnibus Bill will also abolish the Medical Training Review Panel (MTRP) and simplify approved provider obligations in the area of aged care within the Health portfolio.

In October 2014, members of the Medical Training Review Panel identified an overlap between their functions and those of the National Medical Training Advisory Network. Part of the Advisory Network's functions is to provide advice on medical workforce planning and medical training plans to inform government, employers and educators. Given this focus, it was agreed that the Advisory Network could pick up the Panel's annual reporting obligations on medical education and training and the Panel's role would cease.

We don't need two bodies to do the same job.

The Omnibus Bill will also simplify legislation in the Health portfolio. For example, the Bill will improve the administration of residential aged care by amending provisions in the Aged Care Act 1997. Provisions within the Act require approved providers to notify the Department of Health of changes in key personnel in their employment within 28 days. In cases where an employee leaves and is replaced by another, this would constitute two notifications to the Department even if neither change materially affected the quality of care. Examples of unnecessary regulations can matter - the Department receives in the order of 10,000 notifications from aged care providers each year.

In spite of these amendments, the Aged Care Act 1997 will still require approved providers to notify the Department of changes in circumstances that materially affects the provider's suitability to provide care.

Simple but sensible changes provide scope to reduce the unnecessary notification regime without undermining the quality of care. This will reduce compliance costs for businesses and community organisations who are approved aged care providers. The Department of Health has estimated that this will lead to an annual saving of $1.16 million in compliance costs.

The Omnibus Bill will also repeal Part 3 of the Fisheries Administration Act 1991, which establishes the Fishing Industry Policy Council. Why might we do this Mr Speaker? The fact is that the Council has not convened since the legislation was enacted in 1991.

The same consultation and advice functions that the council was supposed to provide have been fulfilled by other working groups and committees. This includes fisheries management advisory committees and ad hoc representative committees, such as that formed for the reviews of the Commonwealth harvest strategy and bycatch policy.

The Omnibus Bill will also amend various Acts in the Communications and the Arts portfolio to remove duplication.

The Broadcasting Services Act 1992, Interactive Gambling Act 2001, Radiocommunications Act 1992 and the Telecommunications Act 1997 will be amended to repeal duplicative provisions. There exists a range of different, if not confusing, consultation requirements in the portfolio which required rule-makers to consult before making certain legislation instruments.

Consultation is not being affected.

The provisions proposed for repeal involve a variety of inconsistent approaches to the time and method of consultation. In some cases, the consultation periods in question range from 14 to 60 days. Some of the consultation provisions in question require publication on a website; while some require publication in multiple newspapers. There is no policy rationale for this inconsistency and inflexibility.

Not only is this confusing, but the repealed consultation provisions are unnecessary. Section 17 of the Legislative Instruments Act 2003 requires a rule maker to be satisfied that appropriate and reasonably practicable consultation has been undertaken prior to making a legislative instrument.

Mr Speaker, users of Commonwealth legislation should not have to sift through outdated, unnecessary regulations to determine whether they still apply.

The Omnibus Bill will also repeal a number of spent Acts, such as the Statistical Bureau (Tasmania) Act 1924. The Act approved an agreement between the Commonwealth and Tasmania to integrate the statistical office of Tasmania into the Commonwealth, and for the Commonwealth to compile and issue statistics specifically for Tasmania.

Integration of statistical functions is complete and these statistical services compiled by the Commonwealth are now obsolete. The Act has served its purpose and can be repealed.

Similarly, the Papua and New Guinea Loan (International Bank) Act 1970 is redundant. The Act related to a Commonwealth guarantee on a loan made to Papua New Guinea by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development in 1973. The bank has confirmed that the loan has been repaid in full and hence, the Act can be repealed.

Allowing spent and redundant acts or provisions to remain in force on the Commonwealth's statute book does not serve any purpose. It only makes it harder for businesses, community organisations, families and individuals to find out about the regulations that matter to them.

Mr Speaker, to date and subject to the passage of legislation through Parliament, in total this Government has taken decisions to repeal over 10,000 legislative instruments and around 3,600 Acts of Parliament.

Through the Omnibus Bill, the AAR and the SLR Bills, this Government is continuing to demonstrate its commitment to make steady and consistent progress to reduce red tape.

Proper housekeeping is part of every Government's responsibility to ensure that the rules the Parliament agreed to in the past continue to remain 'fit for purpose'. I call on both Houses to show bipartisan support for the Omnibus Bill and its non-controversial measures. This will clear up the Commonwealth's statute book and remove the redundant and unnecessary legislation that have outlived their purpose.

I thank the Office of Parliamentary Counsel and others for the significant time and effort that went into preparing this important Omnibus Bill.

With this, I commend the Omnibus Repeal Day (Spring 2015) Bill 2015 to the House.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Gallacher ): In accordance with standing order 115(3), further consideration of these bills is now adjourned to 3 February 2016.

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