Defence Legislation Amendment (Woomera Prohibited Area) Bill 2013
On 30 May 2013, the Hon Stephen Smith MP, Minister for Defence,
introduced the Defence Legislation Amendment (Woomera Prohibited Area) Bill
2013 (the bill) into the House of Representatives.
The bill passed the House on 6 June and was introduced into the Senate on 17
June. The following day, pursuant to the Selection of Bills Committee report,
the Senate referred the bill to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by
20 August 2013.
The bill implements the recommendations of the Final Report of the
Review of the Woomera Prohibited Area, which were accepted by the government in
The legislation amends the Defence Act 1903 and is intended to establish
a framework for administrating access to the Woomera Prohibited Area
(WPA). The bill:
enables the minister to make the rules prescribing certain
matters, including defining the WPA and the zones to be demarcated within that
creates a permit system for access and use by non-defence users;
introduces offences and penalties for entering the WPA without
permission and for failing to comply with a condition of a permit;
provides for compensation for any acquisition of property from a
person otherwise than on just terms; and
provides for a cap on compensation payable to a person for loss
or damage incurred in the WPA.
The Senate asked the committee, when considering the bill,
to examine land use and land management issues.
The committee advertised the inquiry on its website, via twitter, and in
the Adelaide Advertiser newspaper. It wrote to relevant ministers and departments
calling for written submissions, and contacted a number of other organisations
and individuals inviting them to make submissions to the inquiry.
The committee's inquiry was also advertised by the Woomera Prohibited
Area Coordination Office (WPACO), a joint Australian Government and South
Australian Government office established to administer non-Defence use near the
Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA). The WPACO advised members on its mailing list,
comprising some 280 individuals and organisations, about the committee's
inquiry. The WPACO also included a slide about the inquiry in their
consultation presentations conducted in the first week of July 2013.
The committee received 14 submissions and these are published on the
On 5 August 2013, the 43rd Parliament was prorogued. Senate
committees, however, are authorised to continue to meet and transact business,
such as conduct hearings and make reports, after a prorogation if they choose
to do so.
The committee has decided not to continue with its inquiry at this stage. In
particular, some members felt that to continue with a scheduled public hearing on
7 August, during the election period, would not do justice to the inquiry. The
committee therefore cancelled the hearing. Should the bill be reintroduced in
the 44th Parliament and referred to the committee, the committee will
resume its consideration of the legislation.
The committee thanks all those who assisted with the inquiry,
particularly those who made written submissions.
Hon Ursula Stephens
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