Civil Law and Justice Legislation Amendment Bill 2014

Second Reading Speech

Senator Brandis (Minister for Arts and Attorney-General)

I present the explanatory memoranda related to the bills and move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I indicate that I have today referred the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014 to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security for inquiry and report by 17 November 2014. I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.


The Civil Law and Justice Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 is an omnibus bill which will amend sections of the Bankruptcy Act 1966, the Copyright Act 1968, the Court Security Act 2013, the Evidence Act 1995, the Family Law Act 1975, the International Arbitration Act 1974, and the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986. The bill will make minor and technical amendments to provide more clarity to the legislation, correct legislative oversights and amend obsolete provisions. The combined effect of these amendments will improve the efficiency and operation of the justice system administered by the Attorney-General's portfolio.


The government is determined to reduce regulation and make Commonwealth laws clear and accessible. Some of the provisions in this bill go directly towards implementing the government's deregulation agenda. For example, the amendments to the Copyright Act will reduce the impact of the legal deposit scheme on publishers. At present, publishers of certain literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works must deliver copies of their works in print format. The amendments will provide for publishers to submit their works electronically, which will reduce the time and cost burden on the industry.

The government aims to make all Commonwealth legislation coherent, readable and accessible to the widest possible audience. To this end, the Court Security Act will be amended to clarify the process by which court security orders can be varied and revoked. Minimising confusion creates a fairer and more accessible justice system. The Court Security Act amendments will also address court management issues by extending the authority to hold and dispose of unclaimed dangerous items.

Amendments to the Evidence Act will increase consistency with the Uniform Evidence Bill for greater cross-jurisdictional compliance.

The bill will also amend the International Arbitration Act to clarify its application, providing certainty for private parties who entered into arbitration agreements before the International Arbitration Act was last amended in 2010.

Minor, technical amendments contained in the bill will improve the operation of the Family Law Act by correcting errors and ensuring the use of consistent language. The bill will also amend the Family Law Act to explicitly permit the provision of certain information relating to family law proceedings to child welfare authorities. This amendment will ensure that child welfare authorities have access to any relevant material to enable them to better protect children.

The amendments to the Bankruptcy Act will ensure that assistance received under the National Disability Insurance Scheme is not distributed to a bankrupt's creditors. The amendments also modernise the drafting of offences under the Act and ensure that they have kept up with modern technology. Additionally the amendments will enhance the Australian Financial Security Authority's capacity to act as a special trustee for other government agencies. In its special trustee role the Australian Financial Security Authority seizes and sells property pursuant to a Court order in relation to a debt owed to the Commonwealth or a Commonwealth agency.

The bill will add currency and ease of application to the legal system as it stands today. Significantly, the bill will facilitate the removal of obsolete and redundant clauses. For example, the bill will amend the Family Law Act to remove obsolete requirements for annual publication of certain information, as well as to repeal an obsolete definition. And the bill will amend the Evidence Act to remove obsolete provisions and references to the operation of the Evidence Act in relation to the Australian Capital Territory.

The bill reflects the government's commitment to better equip Australia to meet the needs of industry and consumers in the digital age. For example, the amendments to the Copyright Act will allow the National Library of Australia to collect not only our print history but also our digital history.


In conclusion, the intention of this bill is to make minor and technical amendments to a number of Acts in order to increase access to justice for all Australians by removing ambiguity in legislation and streamlining legal processes. The bill will increase the currency, clarity and consistency of legislation administered by the Attorney-General's portfolio. Significantly, the amendments contained within the bill will improve the justice system by making it easier for individuals to understand and comply with the law.