Senate debates

Wednesday, 4 March 2015


Australian River Co. Limited Bill 2015, Defence Trade Controls Amendment Bill 2015; Second Reading

5:20 pm

Photo of Michaelia CashMichaelia Cash (WA, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection) Share this | | Hansard source

I present the explanatory memoranda and I move:

That these bills be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speeches incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speeches read as follows—


This bill provides for the transfer of the assets and any outstanding liabilities of the Australian River Co. Limited to the Commonwealth in preparation for its voluntary deregistration under the Corporations Act 2001.

The Australian River Co. Limited was created in 1997 to hold the residual assets and liabilities of the government owned Australian National Line group following its partial sale in 1998. The Australian River Co. Limited has been in the process of winding up since 2002, selling the last of its vessels in 2012.

Today the company only exists to administer legacy liabilities from former employees relating mainly to workers' compensation, dating back to employment arrangements that typically existed decades ago.

The Government announced as part of the 2014-15 Budget that it would be delivering smaller, more rational Government involving the abolition or merger of Government bodies where possible to reduce the cost of government administration for taxpayers. The reforms are expected to deliver net savings over the forward estimates period.

As part of the second phase of the smaller government agenda, the Government decided that the Australian River Co. Limited would be wound-up by 1 July 2015.

The bill allows for the orderly transfer of assets and liabilities to the Commonwealth, and provides for the Commonwealth to be the company's successor-at-law, prior to bringing to a close the operations of the Australian River Co. Limited. The date on which the transfer to the Commonwealth takes effect will be set by proclamation.

I commend the bill to the Senate.


The purpose of this bill is to amend the Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 to address concerns about its impact on Australian industry and research institutions.

This bill will strengthen national security by enabling Defence to focus its regulatory attention on higher-risk activities with respect to the non-physical supply and transfer of Defence controlled goods while dealing more efficiently with lower-risk activities.

The original act established a two-year transition period during which offence provisions did not apply. This gave stakeholders an opportunity to work with Defence to address concerns with the act through the Strengthened Export Controls Steering Group.

Chaired by Australia's Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb AC, the Steering Group has tested the legislation and advised Government over the last two years on these legislative amendments.

The Steering Group established a pilot program to test the regulatory impact of the act across different types of organisations, including universities, defence industry, government research agencies, small to medium enterprises, cooperative research centres, and medical research institutes.

The results of the pilot program and wider stakeholder engagement provided a strong evidence base to inform the amendments that are contained in this bill.

These amendments will:

            The work of the Steering Group has been invaluable, and I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Professor Chubb and the Steering Group members for their work and leadership. Their reports have provided the Government with critical stakeholder perspectives.

            I would also like to acknowledge the significant investments from the pilot organisations and the broader stakeholder community that have led to the development of these amendments.

            Subject to the passage of this bill, my Department will work with stakeholders to help them prepare for the commencement of the offence provisions in 12 months' time. During this period, assistance will be provided by Defence through a number of aids to be developed in collaboration with the Steering Group and stakeholders.

            It is important that this bill is passed before the offence provisions of the act come into force on 16 May 2015. This will enable industry and research organisations to implement sensible, balanced approaches to export controls within a better balanced regulatory system that protects our national security interests.

            Ordered that further consideration of the second reading of these bills be adjourned to 12 May 2015, in accordance with standing order 111.

            Ordered that the bills be listed on the Notice Paper as separate orders of the day.