Senate debates

Thursday, 7 September 2006

Financial Transaction Reports Amendment Bill 2006

Second Reading

12:35 pm

Photo of Eric AbetzEric Abetz (Tasmania, Liberal Party, Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation) Share this | Hansard source

in reply—In summary, the primary purpose of the Financial Transaction Reports Amendment Bill 2006 is to vary the amendments to the Financial Transaction Reports Act 1988, the FTR Act, made by schedule 9 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (No. 2) 2005, the ATA. The aim of the amendments made by the ATA to the FTR Act was to bring Australia into closer compliance with special recommendation VII of the Financial Action Task Force, FATF. Variations to those amendments have been made to address practical issues raised by industry. The government accepted the Senate Legal and Constitutional Legislation Committee’s recommendation to hold further discussions with the ABA and GE Money on issues they raised in relation to the bill. The government amendments address all but two of those issues.

The government has informed the ABA that it will discuss the issue of the inclusion of credit card account numbers in IFTIs with other FATF members to explore the options for international solutions. GE Money raised an issue about corporate treasuries which will be addressed by way of regulations and can be resolved without requiring an amendment to the bill. There has been extensive consultation with industry in relation to the AMLCTF Bill which is still ongoing. In the course of that consultation, industry have identified issues which have been addressed. This means that changes needed to be made to the FTR Act. Such amendments are important for the proper operation of that act.

Industry must have certainty about its obligations in this complicated area, and the amendments to the FTR Act will achieve that result. It is acknowledged that the AMLCTF Bill has privacy implications. However, the government is committed to bringing Australia into compliance with the recommendations of FATF and, in the present context, special recommendation VII. The AMLCTF Bill will strike an appropriate balance between privacy rights and the need to combat money-laundering and terrorist financing.

It has taken time to develop the AMLCTF Bill because of the amount of consultation which has been needed to develop a package which will be both effective and cost efficient for industry. It is important to get things right and introduce balanced and effective legislation. The government makes no apology for taking the time to consult with industry in this difficult and complex area. Senator Ludwig raised a number of points which again demonstrate the opposition’s lack of understanding of the process required and the complexity of the AMLCTF reforms. Senator Ludwig complained about the time the government has taken to introduce AMLCTF reforms. The government has always said that this is a comprehensive reform, which must not only reflect security concerns but also not inappropriately burden the private sector. The government has engaged in extensive consultation with industry—which industry requested.


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