Omnibus Repeal Day (Autumn 2015) Bill 2015

Bills Digest no. 97 2014–15

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WARNING: This Digest was prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments. This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.

Tyler Fox
Law and Bills Digest Section
8 May 2015 

 

Contents

Purpose of the Bill
Structure of the Bill
Committee consideration
Policy position of non-government parties/independents
Position of major interest groups
Financial implications
Key issues and provisions

 

Date introduced:  18 March 2015
House:  House of Representatives
Portfolio:  Prime Minister
Commencement:  Various dates as set out in the table in section 2 of the Bill.

Links: The links to the Bill, its Explanatory Memorandum and second reading speech can be found on the Bill’s home page, or through the Australian Parliament website.

When Bills have been passed and have received Royal Assent, they become Acts, which can be found at the ComLaw website.

Purpose of the Bill

The purpose of the Omnibus Repeal Day (Autumn 2015) Bill 2015 (the Bill) is to abolish defunct bodies, consolidate previous bodies and repeal spent and redundant provisions and Acts. The Bill was introduced with the Amending Acts 1980 to 1989 Repeal Bill 2015 and the Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 2) 2015.[1] It is part of a package of repeal Bills which include the Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 2) 2014, the Amending Acts 1970 to 1979 Repeal Bill 2014 and the Omnibus Repeal Day (Spring 2014) Bill 2014.[2] The first two of these earlier Bills were given Royal Assent on 25 February 2015 while, as at the time of writing, the latter is still before the Parliament.

This Digest examines only the amendments in the Bill judged to be material or apparently material.

Structure of the Bill

The Bill has seven Schedules reflecting amendments across seven government portfolios. These are:

  • Agriculture
  • Environment
  • Health
  • Prime Minister
  • Social Services
  • Treasury and
  • Veterans’ Affairs.

Committee consideration

Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee

The Bill has been referred to the Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 15 June 2015. Details of the inquiry are at the inquiry webpage.[3]

The Bill was referred to ensure it has no adverse issues or consequences.[4]

Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights

As required under Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011, the Government has assessed the Bill’s compatibility with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of that Act. The Government considers that the Bill is compatible.[5]

However the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights (the Committee) has raised questions regarding the impact of the Bill’s repeal of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Queensland Discriminatory Laws) Act 1975.[6] The Committee has asked for further information from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister about how existing federal legislation provides equivalent protections for the right to equality and non-discrimination.[7]

Policy position of non-government parties/independents

At the time of writing, no policy position from non-government parties or independents has been made publically available.

Position of major interest groups

At the time of writing, no major interest groups had commented on the provisions of the Bill.

Financial implications

The Bill’s Explanatory Memorandum states that it has no financial implications for the Government.[8] However, in his second reading speech, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister stated it may reduce compliance costs.[9]

Key issues and provisions

National Landcare Advisory Committee

The Explanatory Memorandum comments that the government has established the ‘National Landcare Advisory Committee’ to advise the Natural Heritage Ministerial Board[10] on the development and implementation of the National Landcare Programme.[11] It is intended that the National Landcare Advisory Committee will function as an amalgamation of the Australian Landcare Council (ALC) and the Natural Heritage Trust Advisory Committee (NHTA Committee). The ALC is to be abolished by items 8–16 of Schedule 1 of the Bill and the NHTA Committee is to be abolished by items 1–4 of Schedule 2 of the Bill.

In June 2014, the Senate referred the matter of the National Landcare Program to the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee for inquiry and report. That report, published in March 2015, did not specifically recommend that the ALC and NHTA Committees be abolished or consolidated.[12] It focused, instead, on the funding cuts to Landcare and the operation of the program itself.[13] The advisability of this amalgamation may depend on complex matters of environmental protection and their administration, but there has been no significant commentary on the proposed amalgamation. Furthermore, as the Explanatory Memorandum comments, there are no current members of the ALC,[14] while the NHTA Committee has not met since 2010.[15]

Environment

Items 5–6 of Schedule 2 of the Bill abolish the Biological Diversity Advisory Committee (BDA Committee).[16] This Committee was established to advise the Minister for the Environment on matters relating to the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of biological diversity.[17] However its membership lapsed in 2007 and it has not been functionally re-established.[18] The Bill does not provide for another body to replace it. Nor does it provide for its functions to be taken over by another agency.

The Heard Island and McDonald Island Marine Reserve was established in 2002. The Reserve is a Commonwealth reserve, declared under section 344 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).[19] Items 7–12 of Schedule 2 of the Bill amend the EPBC Act to remove redundant exemptions to the making of plans in respect of Heard Island and McDonald Island and to correct references to subsections. Heard Island and McDonald Island are covered by those exemption provisions in the EPBC Act which relate to Commonwealth reserves.[20]

Health

The Health and Other Services (Compensation) Act 1995 provides that the Commonwealth does not pay a Medicare benefit, nursing home benefit, or residential care subsidy for a person who is in receipt of injury compensation payments.[21] The recovery of funds under the Health and Other Services (Compensation) Act is administered by the Department of Human Services.[22]  Items 1–7 of Schedule 3 amend the Health and Other Services (Compensation) Act to improve the administration of the recovery process.
Specifically, item 2 repeals the requirement that a statement of past benefits be verified by statutory declaration. A claimant can declare that the information they provide is true and correct using existing forms.  Item 3 operates so that a notice of judgment or settlement form need only be signed by the compensation payer and not the claimant as well. These are minor administrative changes that may nevertheless save time and effort.

Prime Minister and Cabinet

Items 1–2 of Schedule 4 of the Bill repeal the Aboriginal Affairs (Arrangements with States) Act 1973 and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Queensland Discriminatory Laws) Act 1975.[23] The former is redundant because of the state-APS employee transfer arrangements in Part 10 of the Public Service Act 1999.[24]

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Queensland Discriminatory Laws) Act is similarly redundant because the Queensland legislation it was designed to address has since been repealed.[25] There was a concern that the Aborigines Act 1971 (Qld) and the Torres Strait Islanders Act 1971 (Qld), could be in breach of international conventions.[26] While these stated Acts have since been repealed, as stated above, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has raised the further question of whether there may be unforeseen consequences arising from the amendments in this Schedule.

Item 3 in Part 2 of Schedule 4 contains a consequential amendment upon the repeal of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Queensland Discriminatory Laws) Act.

Social Services

Part 1 of Schedule 5 of the Bill (items 1–5) amends various statutes to allow greater public access to de-identified aggregated protected information so that it can be used by ‘researchers and the general public’.[27] The legislation affected includes the A New Tax System (Family Assistance) (Administration) Act 1999, Paid Parental Leave Act 2010, Social Security (Administration) Act 1999 and the Student AssistancAct 1973.[28]

Retirement assistance for farmers

Part 3 of Schedule 5 of the Bill (items 32–66) amends the Social Security Act 1991[29] to repeal the Retirement Assistance for Farmers Scheme (RAF Scheme) and the Retirement Assistance for Sugarcane Farmers (RASF Scheme). These schemes enabled farmers who met certain conditions to transfer ownership of the family farm to an eligible descendant and still obtain social security.[30] They were closed in 2001 and 2007 with all claims having been determined.[31]

Part 1 of Schedule 7 (items 1-34) repeals provisions in relation to equivalent RAF and RASF Schemes from the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986.[32]

 

Members, Senators and Parliamentary staff can obtain further information from the Parliamentary Library on (02) 6277 2500.



[1].         Parliament of Australia, ‘Amending Acts 1980 to 1989 Repeal Bill 2015 homepage’, Australian Parliament website; Parliament of Australia, ‘Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 2) 2015 homepage’, Australian Parliament website, both accessed 26 March 2015; C Petrie, Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 2) 2015, Bills digest, 90, 2014–15, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2015, accessed 9 April 2015.

[2].         For the Bills digest on these Bills, see J Murphy, Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 2) 2014, Bills digest, 48, 2014–15, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2014; K Magarey, Amending Acts 1970 to 1979 Repeal Bill 2014, Bills digest, 57, 2014–15, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2014; D Spooner, Omnibus Repeal Day (Spring 2014) Bill 2014, Bills digest, 62, 2014–15, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2014, all accessed 25 March 2015.

[3].         Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration, Inquiry into the Omnibus Repeal Day (Autumn 2015) Bill 2015, The Senate, 2015, accessed 7 May 2015.

[4].         Selection of Bills Committee, Report No. 3 of 2015, The Senate, 19 March 2015, Appendix 1, accessed 7 May 2015.

[5].         The Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights can be found at page 32 of the Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill.

[6].         Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Queensland Discriminatory Laws) Act 1975, accessed 8 May 2015.

[7].         Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, Twenty-first report of the 44th Parliament, The Senate, Canberra, 24 March 2015, pp. 6–7, accessed 9 April 2015.

[8].         Explanatory Memorandum, Omnibus Repeal Day (Autumn 2015) Bill 2015, p. 1, accessed 25 March 2015.

[9].         C Porter (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister), ‘Second reading speech: Omnibus Repeal Day (Autumn 2015) Bill 2015’, House of Representatives, Debates, 18 March2015, p. 2704, accessed 10 April 2015.

[10].      National Landcare Program (NLP), ‘Natural Heritage Ministerial Board’, National Landcare Program website, accessed 8 May 2015.

[11].      Department of Agriculture, ‘National Landcare Advisory Committee’, Department of Agriculture website, accessed 10 April 2015; Explanatory Memorandum, op. cit., p. 10.

[12].      Environment and Communications References Committee, National Landcare Program, The Senate, Canberra, March 2015, pp. 48–49, 64–65, 126–137, accessed 10 April 2015.

[13].      Ibid.

[14].      Explanatory Memorandum, op. cit., p. 7.

[15].      Ibid., p. 10.

[16].      Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEH), ‘Biological Diversity Advisory Committee’, DEH website (archived), accessed 8 May 2015.

[17].      Paragraph 505(a) of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, accessed 8 May 2015.

[18].      Explanatory Memorandum, op. cit., pp. 10–11.

[19].      Department of the Environment, ‘Marine Reserve’, Department of the Environment website, accessed 8 May 2015.

[20].      Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, subsections 316(6), 324T(1), 328(6), 341U(1).

[21].      Health and Other Services (Compensation) Act 1995, accessed 6 May 2015.

[22].      Department of Human Services (DHS), ‘Medicare compensation recovery program’, DHS website, accessed 8 May 2015.

[23].      Aboriginal Affairs (Arrangements with States) Act 1973; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Queensland Discriminatory Laws) Act 1975, accessed 9 April 2014.

[24].      Public Service Act 1999, Part 10, accessed 9 April 2014.

[25].      Explanatory Memorandum, op. cit., pp. 15–16; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Queensland Reserves and Communities Self-management) Act 1978, section 16; Community Services (Aborigines) Act 1984 (Qld); Community Services (Torres Strait) Act 1984 (Qld), accessed 9 April 2014.

[26].      G Bryant (Minister for the Capital Territory), ‘Second reading speech: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Queensland Discriminatory Laws) Bill 1975’, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 February 1975, accessed 8 May 2015.

[27].      Explanatory Memorandum, op. cit., p. 17.

[28].      A New Tax System (Family Assistance) (Administration) Act 1999; Paid Parental Leave Act 2010; Social Security (Administration) Act 1999 and Student Assistance Act 1973, accessed 9 April 2014.

[29].      Social Security Act 1991, access 8 May 2015.

[30].      The Schemes were originally introduced by the Social Security and Veterans’ Affairs Legislation Amendment (Retirement Assistance for Farmers) Act 1998, accessed 8 May 2015.

[31].      Explanatory Memorandum, op. cit., pp. 21–24.

[32].      Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986, accessed 9 April 2014.

 

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