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Financial Legislation Amendment Bill 1991

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House: House of Representatives Portfolio: Treasury Purpose This is an omnibus Bill that will make a number of largely non-contentious amendments. The principal amendments relate to the issue, issue price, standard weight and composition of coinage and the repeal of the Special Employment-related Programs Act 1982.

Background As there is no central theme to the this Bill, the background to each amendment will be explained below.

Main Provisions

Amendments to the Currency Act 1965 Part III of the Currency Act 1965 deals with the issue, issue price and standard weight and composition of coinage. The principal aim of the amendments proposed by this Bill is to empower the Treasurer to make statutory instruments relating to the issue, issue price, standard weight and composition of coinage. The Act currently provides for the Governor-General to make regulations for those purposes. Constitutionally, acts of the Governor-General are required, in virtually all instances, to be made on the advice of the Executive Council. As such, Executive Council approval is required before any instrument made by the Governor-General under Part III can operate. It is said by the Minister, in the Second Reading Speech to this Bill, that the current Executive Council approval requirement demands considerable administrative effort; can involve time delays, particularly as the Executive Council only meets periodically; and that such delays can create difficulties for the marketing programs associated with the launch of new coinage collector items.

Clause 4 will allow the Treasurer, subject to disallowance by Parliament, to determine the composition, standard weight, allowable variation from the standard weight, design and dimensions of coins. In addition, the Treasurer may, subject to disallowance by Parliament, specify in a determination more than one standard weight, design or set of dimensions in relation to a coin of a particular denomination.

The principal effect of clause 5 will be to allow the Treasurer to make and issue coins of standard composition specified in the Schedule to the Act provided they are of a standard weight, and of a design and dimensions determined by the Treasurer.

Repeal of the Special Employment-related Programs Act 1982 The Special Employment-related Programs Act 1982 has its origin in the recession of the early 1980s. The Act appropriated $300 million from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for direct finance and grants to the States for projects that "contribute to the generation or maintenance of employment within Australia". Under section 5 of the Act, no payments could be made after 30 June 1984. The $300 million allocated under the Act represented the notional saving from the implementation of the Salaries and Wages Pause Act 1982, and from a wages freeze in the Commonwealth-funded eduction sector. Of the proposed $300 million expenditure, $100 million was said to be allocated to welfare housing. The rest was intended to go to capital works and repair and maintenance of equipment, roads, buildings and other infrastructure. The then Treasurer, the Hon. J. Howard M.P., estimated that the schemes to be funded under the Act would lead to a net direct increase in employment of 6 000 to 10 000, with multiplier effects adding to that total.

The purpose of the Salaries and Wages Pause Act 1982 was to prevent industrial tribunals from increasing the wages or allowances of Commonwealth employees for a twelve month period. The Act provided for exemptions in certain circumstances, including allowing a tribunal to ratify and implement

Financial Legislation Amendment Bill 1991an agreement to increase wages or reduce working hours of Commonwea agreement was entered into before the commencement of the Act, and did not prevent the Commonwealth or a Commonwealth authority from coming to an agreement with a union to grant an over-award increase or an increase that a tribunal would not ratify.

The Special Employment-related Programs Act 1982 will be repealed by clause 11.

Bills Digest Service 17 October 1991 Parliamentary Research Service For further information, if required, contact the Economics and Commerce Group on 06 2772460 and the Law and Government Group on 06 2772430.

This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.

Commonwealth of Australia 1991.

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Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1991.