Introduction of the Territories Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 and Passenger Movement Charge Amendment (Norfolk Island) Bill 2016 to Parliament

The Territories Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 (Territories Bill) and the accompanying Passenger Movement Charge Amendment (Norfolk Island) Bill 2016 have been introduced to Parliament. The Bill continues the reform process by ensuring most Commonwealth laws extend to Norfolk Island.

Following the Australian Government's announcement in March 2015 of its decision to undertake comprehensive reforms on Norfolk Island, the first package of legislation extended to Norfolk Island was passed in May 2015.

The Territories Bill is the second package of legislative amendments and continues the whole-of-government reform process. Following the extension of priority services such as health, social services and taxation to Norfolk Island through the Norfolk Island Legislation Amendment Act 2015, the Territories Bill represents another critical step in the process of providing Norfolk Islanders with the same benefits and obligations of other Australians.

Notably, the Bill will make enrolling to vote in federal elections compulsory, and provide for the representation of Norfolk Island electors in a single electorate in the Australian Capital Territory. The Bill also provides for the phased introduction of the Fair Work Act 2009 and associated workplace relations legislation to Norfolk Island, in addition to making the necessary consequential amendments for non-extension or extension of a broad range of Commonwealth Acts to Norfolk Island.

Greater participation in the Australian national framework will support Norfolk Islanders in addressing social disadvantage by mitigating or removing regulatory barriers to economic participation, and facilitating access to Commonwealth services and programmes. The measures contained in the Bills will implement the Government's commitment to improve services on Norfolk Island and provide a strong foundation for economic growth.

Links to the Bills and Explanatory Memorandum as introduced will be posted as soon as they become available.

Overview of the Territories Legislation Amendment Bill 2016

The purpose of the Territories Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 is to amend:

  • the Norfolk Island Legislation Amendment Act 2015 to ensure that New Zealand citizens holding a permanent visa residing on Norfolk Island have access to social security;
  • the Norfolk Island Legislation Amendment Act 2015 to align the early claims period for family assistance payments with the early claims periods for social security and child support payments before 1 July 2016;
  • the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 and Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988 to extend the child support scheme to residents of the Indian Ocean Territories of Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Island;
  • the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 and the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 to require eligible Australian citizens and eligible other persons living in Norfolk Island to enrol and vote in federal elections and referendums;
  • the Norfolk Island Act 1979 and the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 to extend all Commonwealth laws to Norfolk Island, unless expressly provided otherwise; and make the necessary consequential and transitional amendments to Commonwealth Acts to achieve this outcome (the Passenger Movement Charge Amendment (Norfolk Island) Bill 2016 is consequential to the primary measure); and
  • the Norfolk Island Act 1979 to broaden the definition of the Norfolk Island Regional Council to enable flexibility in the application of local government law to Norfolk Island.

Overview of the Passenger Movement Charge Amendment (Norfolk Island) Bill 2016

The purpose of the Passenger Movement Charge Amendment (Norfolk Island) Bill 2016(the Bill) is to amend the Passenger Movement Charge Act 1978 so that most departures from Norfolk Island to another country will attract the Passenger Movement Charge.

The Passenger Movement Charge Act 1978, together with the Passenger Movement Charge Collection Act 1978, applies a financial charge upon the departure of a passenger from mainland Australia to another country.

The charge also applies to departures from the Indian Ocean Territories to another country.

This Bill, together with the Territories Legislation Amendment Bill, will extend these arrangements to Norfolk Island so that people departing Norfolk Island for another country will also be liable to pay the charge.

However, the Bill provides that a person is exempt from liability for passenger movement charge if they depart Norfolk Island for another country (or for an installation in the Joint Petroleum Development Area) with the intention of returning to another place in Australia within 7 days.

These amendments recognise that people who, for example, depart Norfolk Island for another country only because they wish to travel on to mainland Australia should not be liable for passenger movement charge.

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Last Updated: 24 February, 2016