Bills subject to scrutiny

That a bill is introduced into parliament after an extensive period of community consultation does not necessarily mean that it will proceed into law without further scrutiny, and even further public input. This scrutiny is decided by the selection of bills committee of the Senate.

That committee has decided that the provisions of various bills be referred to committees, or not, with the remainder deferred until the committee’s next meeting: see Report No 1, 2019. Bills that are the subject of the report concern banking reform, business securitisation and fair work laws, and many other issues.

Here are three of interest in insolvency.

Phoenixing

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Combating Illegal Phoenixing) Bill 2019 is referred to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 26 March 2019.

The committee’s reasons are that Treasury, who sponsored the bill, has not published what may have been many submissions it sought on the bill. Some members of the committee, having seen some of the submissions,

‘have serious reservations about some measures in the Bill’.

The committee considered that possible submissions to the Senate Committee might come from Treasury, Professor Helen Anderson of the University of Melbourne, CAANZ and ARITA.

If it is a practice of Treasury not to publish the submissions it receives in response to its public consultations, perhaps it should reconsider its approach.

Director Identity Number

The provisions of the director identity number (DIN) bill, that is, the Commonwealth Registers Bill 2019, and related bills have also been referred to the Economics Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 26 March 2019.

Reasons given were that these were significant reforms which should be reviewed to ‘ensure effectiveness, ease of access and protection of privacy’. Possible submissions are from Treasury, APRA, consumer credit groups, ASIC, CHOICE and the financial rights legal centre.

Pharmacies

The National Health Amendment (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Bill 2019 has been deferred to the next meeting of the committee.

The Bill would seek to provide a regime for the continued dispensing of PPS drugs in the event of the ‘bankruptcy’ of the pharmacist, or the insolvency of the operating company. The bill would give the Secretary of the Department of Health the power to grant permission to an appointed insolvency practitioner to manage the supply of PBS medicines at the pharmacy premises, making that practitioner someone who

‘is not as a matter of law an approved pharmacist, but [who] is treated as such’.

That and other issues may result in the bill being referred to a legal committee for scrutiny.

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