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Wednesday, 18 October 2017
Page: 7963


Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Defence) (19:00): 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—

DEFENCE LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (INSTRUMENT MAKING) BILL 2017

The proposed bill will amend instrument making powers in the Defence Act 1903 ('Defence Act') to ensure that, when re-making certain instruments made under the Defence Act in the future, the instruments can reflect modern policy requirements and approaches to drafting.

Several instruments made under the Defence Act are scheduled to sunset in April 2018, including the Defence (Inquiry) Regulations 1985,the Defence (Areas Control) Regulations 1989, and the Defence (Public Areas) By-Laws 1987. These instruments deal with important issues and it will be necessary to re-make them in some form before they sunset.

As is the purpose of sunsetting, the intention is to improve the instruments by consolidating duplications, improving consistency, and providing clarity wherever possible.

Defence Inquiries

At present, the Defence (Inquiry) Regulations 1985 ('Defence (Inquiry) Regulations') establish a range of inquiries that can be undertaken in Defence, including General Courts of Inquiry, Boards of Inquiry, Combined Boards of Inquiry, Chief of the Defence Force Commissions of Inquiry, and Inquiry Officer inquiries.

The different types of inquiries outlined in the Defence (Inquiry) Regulations all perform a similar function, which is to assist commanders in the Defence Force to obtain accurate and relevant information in a timely manner to inform their decisions and actions. Similar procedures and powers also apply to each type of inquiry.

When re-making this instrument, the intention is to consolidate the different types of inquiries, instead articulating one form of inquiry that would be flexible and scalable to suit the relevant circumstances.

To achieve this, the bill will amend the regulation-making power in the Defence Act as it relates to inquiries. Instead of listing different types of inquiries, the new provision will simply enable the making of regulations relating to inquiries concerning the Defence Force.

Defence Aviation Areas

The Defence (Areas Control) Regulations 1989 ('Defence (Areas Control) Regulations') prescribe affected land, in which buildings and other objects hazardous to aviation can be regulated.

The regulations include limits on building heights within prescribed areas, prohibitions on bringing hazardous objects within a prescribed area, powers to require the removal or marking of hazardous objects within prescribed areas, and powers to enter a prescribed area to remove or mark hazardous objects.

The power to make these regulations is at paragraph 124(1) (na) of the Defence Act, which enables the making of regulations for 'the regulation, control or prohibition of the construction or use of buildings, erections or installations, the use of apparatus, machines or vehicles, and the removal in whole or in part of buildings, erections, installations, apparatus, trees or other natural obstacles, within prescribed areas... '.

The scheme established in the Defence (Areas Control) Regulations is important to maintain safety for defence aviation, prescribing areas in the surroundings of 12 defence airfields.

The bill will repeal the regulation-making power in paragraph 124(1) (na}, and insert a new Part IXD relating to the establishment of defence aviation areas in which buildings and objects can be regulated for the purposes of removing and reducing hazards to defence aviation.

Rather than being prescribed in the regulations, the Minister may declare an area to be a defence aviation area by legislative instrument. This will significantly reduce the length of the regulations, enable changes to maps of the areas to be incorporated in the instrument more quickly, and will be consistent with the approach taken to the declaration of defence areas under Part 11 of the Defence Regulation 2016. This will not reduce the ability for the Parliament to provide oversight to these regulations.

The bill will also improve the clarity of the regulation-making power more generally in the new Part. In line with current drafting practice, the new Part will trigger the standard provisions in Part 2 of the Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Act 2014 ('Regulatory Powers Act') for monitoring whether legislation is being complied with, or whether information given to the Commonwealth in compliance, or purported compliance, is correct.

Defence Public Areas

The Defence (Public Areas) By-Laws 1987 (by-laws) apply in public areas declared under Part IXB of the Defence Act.

There are currently two existing public areas: the Beecroft public area in New South Wales, and the Garden Island public area in Western Australia. Each public area is a significant tract of Defence land, where there is a strong interest in enabling public entry for recreational purposes where this can be achieved consistently with defence requirements.

The by-laws apply in the public areas, and regulate the public's use of the areas. For example, they provide for offences relating to parking, camping and fishing in public areas.

When re-making the by-laws, the intention is to enable some of the offences to be enforced through an infringement notice scheme. At present, paragraph 116ZD(2) (r) enables the by-laws to include this type of scheme for some offences. However, the by-laws do not currently include an infringement notice scheme.

In line with current drafting practice, the preference is to establish infringement notice schemes by reference to standard provisions in the Regulatory Powers Act. Accordingly, this bill will amend the Defence Act to enable the by-laws to specify strict liability offences as subject to an infringement notice under Part 5 of the Regulatory Powers Act.

The sunsetting and re-making process of these Defence instruments have provided Defence with the opportunity to update its policies and practices in a number of important subject matter areas.

The bill provides Defence not only with the opportunity to modernise the language of its legislation, but also assist the regulation making process in the future.

I commend the bill.

TREASURY LAWS AMENDMENT (2017 MEASURES NO. 6) BILL 2017

This bill implements two government initiatives to encourage innovation in Australia.

This is another example of the Turnbull Government pulling back the red tape and outdated tax settings that hold back Australian start-ups and innovators, and ensuring our tax system is fit for purpose.

Schedule 1 to this bill amends the A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999to change the GST treatment of digital currency to be like money.

The bill delivers on the 2017-18 Budget commitment to remove the double taxation of digital currency from 1 July 2017.

The bill ensures that GST will no longer be charged on purchases of digital currency. As announced in the 2017 Budget, the bill has a retrospective start date of 1 July 2017.

Currently, consumers who use digital currency can effectively bear a GST burden twice: once on the purchase of the digital currency and once again on its use in exchange for other goods and services subject to the GST.

The current GST treatment of digital currency is an obstacle to the growth of the Financial Technology or 'FinTech' industry in Australia.

This government bill removes this GST obstacle.

Schedule 1 of the bill will introduce a definition of digital currency into the GST law. The definition is based on principles to ensure that digital currency that operates like money is treated like money for GST purposes. The bill will apply to all digital currencies that meet this definition.

The government has worked with the FinTech sector to ensure that the definition of digital currency to be included in the GST law can support rapidly evolving technology.

The FinTech sector has enthusiastically supported the measure. The bill will make it easier for new innovative digital currency businesses to operate in Australia.

FinTech is about stimulating technological innovation so that financial markets and systems can become more efficient and consumer-focused.

The measure to remove the double taxation of digital currency is an important step to creating an environment for Australia's FinTech sector where it can be both internationally competitive and play a central role in aiding the positive transformation of our economy.

The government continues to deliver on its FinTech agenda by commencing work on an enhanced package of further reforms to be implemented this year.

The government will make it easier for new innovative start-ups to access funding and the investors they need. We will support FinTech businesses to test innovative financial services to facilitate more innovation, promote greater competition and increase choice for Australian consumers.

The government is making real progress.

Schedule 1 of the bill to remove the double taxation of digital currency proves yet again the government is backing FinTech with tangible initiatives.

Schedule 2 of this bill amends the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997toinclude the Centre for Entrepreneurial Research and Innovation on the list of deductible gift recipients.

Deductible gift recipient status allows members of the public to receive income tax deductions for the donations they make to the Centre.

The Centre for Entrepreneurial Research and Innovation is a registered charity based in Western Australia that works with universities, research institutes, government, private enterprise and industry to promote entrepreneurism and commercialisation of innovative ideas.

The Centre's mission to encourage the take-up of innovative ideas by start-ups in Australia, rather than moving overseas, is a core theme of the government's innovation agenda.

Forging stronger connections between researchers and the private sector is important in harnessing the new sources of growth which will deliver the next age of economic prosperity in Australia.

Granting deductible gift recipient status to the Centre for Entrepreneurial Research and Innovation will assist the organisation with fundraising for this very important cause.

Full details of this bill are contained in the explanatory memorandum.

Debate adjourned.

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