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Wednesday, 17 November 2004
Page: 102

Senator Bartlett to move on the next day of sitting:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) 20 November 2004 marks the 15th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC),

(ii) UNCROC is the most widely ratified human rights convention of all time, ratified by 192 countries,

(iii) millions of children worldwide suffer from preventable diseases and malnutrition,

(iv) numerous children have no hope of even receiving a basic education,

(v) numerous children work in inhumane conditions and are exploited as cheap labour,

(vi) children are the sad victims of trafficking, including for heinous purposes of prostitution and sexual exploitation, and

(vii) children are affected by armed conflict and the ravages of war; and

(b) expresses the view that an important way for Australia to demonstrate its commitment to UNCROC is to ensure that Australia's domestic laws comply with the spirit and terms of the treaty.

Senator Stott Despoja to move on the next day of sitting:

That the Senate—

(a) notes:

(i) the briefing provided to the United Nations Security Council by the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Sudan on 4 November 2004, indicating that `the Sudanese Government made no progress last month in either stopping militia attacks against civilians in Darfur, disarming those armed groups or prosecuting the individuals responsible for the worst atrocities',

(ii) there are now approximately 1.45 million internally displaced persons within Sudan and the number of Sudanese refugees in Chad has risen to 200 000,

(iii) there have been fresh reports of attacks against internally displaced persons in the Darfur region,

(iv) UNICEF has reported that armed militias continue to rape women and girls in the Darfur region with impunity, including numerous reports of gang rapes,

(v) the suffering of those affected by the conflict is being prolonged, and the death toll is rising, as a result of international inaction,

(vi) the Secretary-General of the United Nations has called on all Member States to provide urgent and generous support to the African Union to enable it to expand its mission in Sudan, and

(vii) the Security Council has proposed to meet in Nairobi on 18 and 19 November 2004, at which time it will discuss the crisis in Darfur;

(b) welcomes the signing of humanitarian and security accords between the Sudanese Government and rebels on 10 November 2004;

(c) acknowledges the Australian Govern-ment's provision of $20 million in humanitarian assistance to Sudan and its offer to assist the African Union mission by providing the use of two C-l 30 Hercules transport aircraft;

(d) calls on the Australian Government to:

(i) as a matter of urgency, provide additional, generous support to help facilitate the expansion of the African Union mission, and

(ii) make immediate representations to Security Council members, prior to the meeting in Nairobi, regarding the need for urgent action to prevent further loss of life and suffering within Sudan and neighbouring Chad; and

(e) calls on the Sudanese Government to take immediate action to disarm militia groups, prevent further attacks against civilians, and prosecute the perpetrators of atrocities.

Senator Conroy to move on the next day of sitting:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) the Government has failed to ensure that telecommunications service standards are up to scratch in rural and regional Australia,

(ii) the chief of the Government's telecommunications inquiry, Mr Dick Estens, has said that telecommuni-cations services in the bush remain a `shemozzle', and

(iii) selling Telstra will cost the budget $255 million over the next 4 years; and

(b) calls on the Government to keep Telstra in majority public ownership to ensure reliable telecommunications services for all Australians.

Senator Forshaw to move on the next day of sitting:

(1) That the following matter be referred to the Finance and Public Administration References Committee for inquiry and report by 22 June 2005:

(a) the level of expenditure on, and the nature and extent of, Commonwealth government advertising since 1996;

(b) the processes involved in decision-making on Commonwealth govern-ment advertising, including the role of the Government Communications Unit and the Ministerial Committee on Government Communications;

(c) the adequacy of the accountability framework and, in particular, the 1995 guidelines for government advertising, with reference to relevant reports, guidelines and principles issued by the Auditor-General and the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit;

(d) the means of ensuring the ongoing application of guidelines based on those recommended by the Auditor-General and the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit to all government advertising; and

(e) the order of the Senate of 29 October 2003 relating to advertising projects, and whether the order is an effective mechanism for parliamentary accountability in relation to government advertising.

(2) That the committee have power to consider and use the records of the Finance and Public Administration References Committee appointed in the previous Parliament.

Senator Harradine to move on the next day of sitting:

That answers be provided by 31 January 2005 to:

(a) estimates questions on notice lodged with legislation committees in the course of the estimates hearings in May and June 2004; and

(b) estimates questions on notice lodged with legislation committees by 2 December 2004.

Senator Lees to move, contingent on the President presenting a report of the Auditor-General on any day or notifying the Senate that such a report had been presented under standing order 166:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent the senator moving a motion to take note of the report and any senator speaking to it for not more than 10 minutes, with the total time for the debate not to exceed 60 minutes.

Senator Lees to move, contingent on the Senate on any day concluding its consideration of any item of business and prior to the Senate proceeding to the consideration of another item of business:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent the senator moving a motion relating to the conduct of the business of the Senate or to provide for the consideration of any matter.

Senator Lees to move, contingent on the Senate proceeding to the consideration of government documents:

That so much of the standing orders relating to the consideration of government documents be suspended as would prevent the senator moving a motion relating to the order in which the documents are called on by the President.

Senator Lees to move, contingent on a minister moving a motion that a bill be considered an urgent bill:

That so much of standing order 142 be suspended as would prevent debate taking place on the motion.

Senator Lees to move, contingent on a minister moving a motion to specify time to be allotted to the consideration of a bill, or any stage of a bill:

That so much of standing order 142 be suspended as would prevent the motion being debated without limitation of time and each senator speaking for the time allotted by standing orders.

Senator Lees to move, contingent on the chair declaring that the time allotted for the consideration of a bill, or any stage of a bill, has expired:

That so much of standing order 142 be suspended as would prevent further consideration of the bill, or the stage of the bill, without limitation of time or for a specified period.

Senator Lees to move, contingent on the moving of a motion to debate a matter of urgency under standing order 75:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent the senator moving an amendment to the motion.

Senator Lees to move, contingent on the President proceeding to the placing of business on any day:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent the senator moving a motion relating to the order of business on the NoticePaper.

Senator Lees to move, contingent on any senator being refused leave to make a statement to the Senate:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent that senator making that statement.

Senator Lees to move, contingent on a minister at question time on any day asking that further questions be placed on notice:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent the senator moving a motion that, at question time on any day, questions may be put to ministers until 28 questions, including supplementary questions, have been asked and answered.

Senator Lees to move, contingent on any senator being refused leave to table a document in the Senate:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent the senator moving that the document be tabled.

Senator IAN CAMPBELL (Western Australia—Minister for the Environment and Heritage) (3.37 p.m.)—I give notice that, on Monday, 29 November 2004, I shall move:

That the provisions of paragraphs 5 to 8 of standing order 111 not apply to the following bills, allowing them to be considered during this period of sittings:

Administrative Appeals Tribunal Amendment Bill 2004,

Bankruptcy and Family Law Legislation Amendment Bill 2004,

Disability Discrimination Amendment (Education Standards) Bill 2004,

Family Law Amendment (Annuities) Bill 2004, and

Fisheries (Validation of Plans of Management) Bill 2004.

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

Leave granted.

The statements read as follows—

ADMINISTRATIVE APPEALS TRIBUNAL AMENDMENT BILL

Purpose of the Bill

The bill amends the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 (the Act) and related legislation to improve the capacity of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (the Tribunal) to manage its workload and ensure that reviews are conducted as efficiently as possible. The bill also expands the range of people who may be appointed to the office of President of the Tribunal and removes tenured appointments under the Act.

Reasons for Urgency

The bill introduces a broad range of reforms that will significantly improve the flexibility and efficiency of the Tribunal, bringing substantial benefits to applicants and the community at large.

The bill expands the range of people who may be appointed to the position of President and removes tenured appointments. The current President of the Tribunal has been appointed on an acting basis only. This arrangement has been in place for several years in anticipation of the changes to the appointment provisions contained in the bill. It is highly desirable that an ongoing appointment be made as soon as possible to provide the Tribunal, and the person appointed, with certainty.

(Circulated by authority of the Attorney-General)

—————

BANKRUPTCY AND FAMILY LAW LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL

Purpose of the Bill

The bill amends the Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Bankruptcy Act) and the Family Law Act 1975 (Family Law Act) in order to harmonise the interaction between the two Acts, prevent the misuse of family law financial agreements as a means of avoiding payments to creditors and to enhance the regime under the Bankruptcy Act for the collection of income contributions from bankrupts.

Reasons for Urgency

The bill addresses longstanding community concerns about uncertainty in the interaction between family law and bankruptcy law, and concerns identified in the 2002 Joint Taskforce Report on the Use of Bankruptcy and Family Law Schemes to Avoid Payment of Tax (Joint Taskforce Report) about the misuse of schemes to defeat the claims of legitimate creditors. The bill implements recommendations of the Joint Taskforce Report.

The contents of the bill have also been examined by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, and this bill implements recommendations in its July 2004 report for revisions to the bill. The report recommended that the reforms included in the bill should proceed.

(Circulated by authority of the Attorney-General)

—————

DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION AMENDMENT (EDUCATION STANDARDS) BILL

Purpose of the Bill

The bill amends the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (the Act) to ensure that the provisions of the draft Disability Standards for Education (Education Standards) made under s 31 of the Act are fully supported. The bill introduces and defines the term `education provider', provides that it is unlawful for education providers to discriminate on the ground of disability in the development or accreditation of curricula or training courses, provides that education providers may be required to develop strategies and programs to prevent harassment and victimisation of students with disabilities, extends the defence of `unjustifiable hardship' to post-enrolment situations, and clarifies that disability standards made under s 31 of the Act may require `reasonable adjustments' to be made to avoid unlawful discrimination.

Reasons for Urgency

Passage of the bill is necessary to ensure the Education Standards can be formulated as soon as possible. The Education Standards will clarify and elaborate the obligations of education and training providers in relation to students with disabilities under the Act, and provide guidance on how to meet these obligations. The Standards will be a powerful tool in removing unlawful discrimination against people with disabilities participating in education and training.

The Education Standards cannot be formulated until after passage of the amendments to the Act. It is highly desirable that this bill be accorded priority so that the Standards can be formulated and tabled as soon as possible.

(Circulated by authority of the Attorney-General)

—————

FAMILY LAW AMENDMENT (ANNUITIES) BILL

Purpose of the Bill

The bill extends Part VIIIB of the Family Law Act 1975 (the Act), which enables superannuation to be split on marriage breakdown, to annuity products that are similar to superannuation.

Reasons for Urgency

Schedule 6 of the Family Law Amendment Act 2003 (the 2003 Act), which provides the court power to make orders binding third parties in family law property proceedings, commences on 17 December 2004. The bill defines superannuation like annuity products and removes them from the Schedule 6 provisions of the 2003 Act and provides that where there are property settlement proceedings they should be dealt with in a manner similar to the splitting of superannuation interests in Part VIIIB of the Act. The bill allows for regulations and for taxation and social security consequential amendments to be subsequently made to address these products. These provisions of the bill will not come into operation for six months from the date of Royal Assent to allow for these other changes to be made.

The financial services sector strongly supports legislative certainty about how annuity products are to be dealt with prior to the commencement on 17 December of Schedule 6 of the 2003 Act.

(Circulated by authority of the Attorney-General)

—————

FISHERIES (VALIDATION OF PLANS OF MANAGEMENT) BILL

Purpose of the Bill

The bill provides certainty about the validity of certain plans of management determined, amended and/or revoked under the Fisheries Management Act 1991 and things done under or for the purposes of those plans.

Reasons for Urgency

Plans of management set out the arrangements under which Commonwealth fisheries resources are sustainably managed. It is important to ensure that nothing can call into question the security of access to resources under these plans and things done under or for the purposes of those plans.

In this respect, a legal audit has found that there is an inconsistency in the ways in which some plans of management have been determined and this inconsistency may encourage some to challenge the validity of these plans. Whilst this risk is slight, it is important for industry that these plans are certain.

(Circulated by authority of the Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation)

Senator IAN CAMPBELL (Western Australia—Minister for the Environment and Heritage) (3.37 p.m.)—I give notice that, on Tuesday, 30 November 2004, I shall move:

That the provisions of paragraphs (5) to (8) of standing order 111 not apply to the following bills, allowing them to be considered during this period of sittings:

Family and Community Services and Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment (2004 Election Commitments) Bill 2004,

National Water Commission Bill 2004,

Tax Laws Amendment (Retirement Villages) Bill 2004,

Tax Laws Amendment (Small Business Measures) Bill 2004, and

Tax Laws Amendment (Superannuation Reporting) Bill 2004.

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

Leave granted.

The statements read as follows—

FAMILY AND COMMUNITY SERVICES AND VETERANS' AFFAIRS LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (2004 ELECTION COMMITMENTS) BILL

Purpose of the Bill

The bill amends social security law, family assistance law and the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 to give effect to 2004 election commitments in respect of self-funded retirees, older Australians and carers on income support, grandparents caring for children and certain disability pensioners.

Reasons for Urgency

Two measures in the bill (providing a new $200 payment for self-funded retirees, and special rate child care benefit, covering the full cost of fees charged, for grandparents caring for children) are to commence on 1 December 2004. The remaining measures in the bill are to commence by early 2005.

(Circulated by authority of the Minister for Family and Community Services)

—————

NATIONAL WATER COMMISSION BILL

Purpose of the Bill

The bill establishes the National Water Commission as a Commonwealth statutory authority.

Reasons for Urgency

At its 25 June 2004 meeting, the Council of Australian Governments agreed to the establishment of a National Water Commission.

Establishment of the Commission is a key platform of the National Water Initiative Agreement (NWIA) signed by the Australian Government and the Governments of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory.

While the Commission is being established administratively pending passage of the bill, the NWIA commits parties to establishing the Commission as an independent statutory body by the end of 2004. Passage of the bill in the 2004 Spring sittings is required for the Commonwealth to meet this commitment.

The NWI Agreement sets out a number of key tasks for completion by the National Water Commission in its first year, including the evaluation of state and territory implementation plans for the Initiative by mid-2005, and the scheduled 2005 assessment of National Competition Policy water-related reform commitments.

The Commission will also provide advice and recommendations to the Government on projects to be funded under the Australian Water Fund, a major Australian Government investment in securing Australia's water future.

(Circulated with the authority of the Prime Minister)

—————

TAX LAWS AMENDMENT (RETIREMENT VILLAGES) BILL

Purpose of the Bill

The bill amends the taxation law to:

ensure that the supply of accommodation and certain care services are GST-free when supplied to a resident of a serviced apartment in a retirement village who requires and is supplied with daily living activities assistance or nursing services; and

ensure that the provision of accommodation and accommodation-related services and facilities and meals by charitable retirement villages is GST-free.

Reasons for Urgency

The measures need to be enacted as early as possible to remove uncertainty in relation to the GST treatment of serviced apartments in retirement villages.

(Circulated by authority of the Treasurer)

—————

TAX LAWS AMENDMENT (SMALL BUSINESS MEASURES) BILL

Purpose of the Bill

The bill amends the taxation law to reduce GST compliance costs for small business through changes to payments, reporting and apportionment rules.

Reasons for Urgency

The measures need to be enacted as early as possible to reduce GST compliance costs for small business. Passage in this sitting is required as the matters are beneficial for small business and apply from 1 July 2004.

(Circulated by authority of the Treasurer)

—————

TAX LAWS AMENDMENT (SUPERANNUATION REPORTING) BILL

Purpose of the Bill

The bill amends the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992 to remove the requirement for employers to report superannuation contributions to employees.

Reasons for Urgency

The measures need to be enacted as early as possible to remove the requirement for employers to report superannuation contributions to employees under the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992. The provisions commence on 1 January 2005.

(Circulated by authority of the Treasurer)