Thursday, 16 June 2011
Questions without Notice
I table an addendum to the explanatory memorandum to the Combating the Financing of People Smuggling and Other Measures Bill 2011. I thank Senator Humphries and Senator Macdonald for their contributions to this debate and more particularly for their support for this important government legislation. The Australian law enforcement agencies are aware that the international cash transfer services provided by alternative remittance dealers are used by individuals in Australia to pay the organisers of people-smuggling ventures. The bill introduces measures to strengthen existing anti-money-laundering and counterterrorism financing regulation of the alternative remittance sector. These measures are threefold: introducing controls over the registration process, expanding the enforcement options available to AUSTRAC for dealing with noncompliance in the alternative remittance sector and introducing the AML/CTF regulation of providers of remittance networks.
Through two further measures, the bill also introduces reforms that will reduce the compliance burden on businesses regulated by the AML/CTF regime. Firstly, it enables businesses to use credit reporting data to fulfil customer verification obligations and enables the AUSTRAC CEO to grant exemptions from the Financial Transaction Reports Act. The bill also includes measures that will enable AUSTRAC to share financial intelligence more broadly within the Australian intelligence community. This will ensure a more holistic approach to Australia's national intelligence efforts on national security and organised crime issues.
This bill demonstrates the government's commitment to breaking the people-smuggling model and targeting criminal groups which organise, participate in and benefit from people-smuggling activities. The government amendments introduce controls over the information-gathering power set out in the bill to ensure that a person is not subject to this coercive power without proper justification. The amendment that I shall be moving when we go into committee is in keeping with the broad government policy and with the recommendation of the Senate Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills. I commend this bill to the Senate.
Question agreed to.
Bill read a second time.