House of Representatives

Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Omnibus) Bill 2020

Second Reading Speech

Mr ROBERT (Fadden - Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Minister for Government Services)

I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Omnibus) Bill 2020 makes minor technical and administrative amendments to social services portfolio legislation and consequential amendments to other legislation. This bill amends secrecy provisions in social services portfolio legislation to require the Department of Social Services and Services Australia to comply with compulsory notices issued by royal commissioners where such notices cover information protected by those secrecy provisions.

Whilst the Department of Social Services and Services Australia choose to comply with royal commission notices that seek access to information covered by secrecy provisions, it is appropriate for the department and Services Australia to be compelled to provide information, rather than having a discretion to do so. This will safeguard the provision of information to allow the important work of the royal commission. Royal commissions must use any information provided in response to a compulsory notice in accordance with the Royal Commissions Act 1902.

The bill will make minor amendments to two offence provisions in the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999 relating to the reckless provision of false or misleading documents, or the reckless making of false or misleading statements, to clarify that the offences can apply where Services Australia assess a claim by using an automated process.

The bill will also include numerous amendments that will remove obsolete provisions, correct errors, update legislation and improve the operation of legislation.

Correcting errors, providing clarification and repealing counterproductive, unnecessary or redundant provisions assists with ensuring the law is easily accessible, while continuing to deliver on policy outcomes. I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.