ADDITIONAL COMMENTS BY - LIBERAL SENATORS
The key measures in the Combating the Financing of People Smuggling and
Other Measures Bill 2011 (Bill) are supported in-principle by Liberal Senators.
However this support is deferred until a number of matters, which were raised
during the inquiry into the Bill, are addressed.
Title of the Bill
Liberal Senators are of the view that the title of the Bill does not
relate to either its content or intended purpose. While the key measure in the
Bill deals with the enhanced regulation of the remittance sector (through the
amendment of the AML/CTF Act), the title of the Bill focuses only on one aspect
of the possible misuse of the remittance sector, namely the financing of people
smuggling. This suggests a cynical use of the prerogative to choose the title
of proposed legislation to be introduced into the Parliament. The title of the
Bill is clearly uninformative and misleading, and Liberal Senators believe it
should be amended to reflect the Bill's actual content and intended purpose.
Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) Rules
The EM to the Bill notes that the detail of the reform to the remittance
sector will be contained in the AML/CTF Rules which will be developed in the
future by AUSTRAC. This does not allow stakeholders and others to make an
informed judgement as to the merits of these Rules and how they will function
together with the Bill. It is vital that, until all these Rules are made public
and available for consideration, the Bill should not commence.
AUSTRAC intelligence sharing
The importance of memoranda of understanding (MOUs) for appropriate
intelligence sharing between government agencies is reflected in the fact that
AUSTRAC establishes MOUs with all government agencies. Therefore, it is
disappointing that the MOUs between AUSTRAC and the new 'designated agencies'
included in the Bill may not be agreed until months after the commencement of
the Bill. The Bill should not commence until appropriate MOUs are agreed between
AUSTRAC and these agencies.
The Regulatory Impact Statement included in the EM suggests that the
Bill will create some efficiencies for the remittance sector. However, the
provisions of the Bill appear intended to merely shift compliance requirements
and costs onto the providers of large remittance networks. Important questions
remain as to the cost of compliance with the new registration requirements for
providers of remittance services. To avoid unnecessary regulatory burdens on
businesses, further clarity is required regarding how the new regulatory
scheme, and particularly the AML/CTF Rules, will affect existing businesses and
whether the new regulatory scheme creates savings or merely shift costs within
the remittance sector.
Scrutiny of Bills Committee
On 2 March 2011, the Senate Scrutiny of Bill Committee released an Alert
Digest which included consideration of the Bill. The Committee highlighted
a number of areas of concern with the Bill and sought the Attorney-General's
response in relation to these issues. Liberal Senators consider that it is more
than disappointing that the Attorney-General's Department could not provide
specific responses during this inquiry to the areas of concern which the Senate
Scrutiny of Bills Committee has highlighted. Answers to these serious concerns
are needed before the Bill is passed.
The Senate should pass the Bill, subject to the following matters being
- the misleading title of the Bill;
the public release and consideration of the Anti-Money Laundering
and Counter-Terrorism Financing Rules;
- the establishment of appropriate memoranda of understanding for
the sharing of intelligence between Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis
Centre and the new designated agencies;
- a reassessment of the regulatory burden imposed by the Bill on
businesses in the remittance sector and a clarification as to whether the
proposed changes create efficiencies or merely shift costs within the sector;
- the areas of concern highlighted by the Senate Scrutiny of Bills
Guy Barnett Senator Stephen Parry
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