Federal Register of Legislation - Australian Government

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A Bill for an Act to establish a Commission of Inquiry into Iron Ore Supply and Demand, and for related purposes
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Registered 01 Jun 2015
Introduced HR 01 Jun 2015

2013‑2014‑2015

 

The Parliament of the

Commonwealth of Australia

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

Presented and read a first time

 

 

 

 

Iron Ore Supply and Demand (Commission of Inquiry) Bill 2015

 

No.      , 2015

 

(Mr Katter)

 

 

 

A Bill for an Act to establish a Commission of Inquiry into Iron Ore Supply and Demand, and for related purposes

  

  

  


Contents

Part 1—Preliminary                                                                                                             1

1............ Short title............................................................................................. 1

2............ Commencement................................................................................... 2

3............ Act binds Crown................................................................................. 2

4............ Definitions.......................................................................................... 2

5............ Ministerial responsibility for this Act.................................................. 3

Part 2—Commission of Inquiry into Iron Ore Supply and Demand     3

Division 1—Establishment and functions of the Commission                  3

6............ Establishment of Commission............................................................. 3

7............ Terms of reference.............................................................................. 4

8............ Report to the Parliament...................................................................... 4

Division 2—Powers of the Commission                                                              5

9............ Hearings.............................................................................................. 5

10.......... Counsel assisting the Commission...................................................... 6

11.......... Power to summon witnesses and take evidence.................................. 6

12.......... Arrest of witness failing to appear...................................................... 7

13.......... Search warrants................................................................................... 7

14.......... Powers of Commission in relation to documents and other things...... 8

Part 3—Offences                                                                                                                    9

15.......... Unauthorised presence at hearing or publication of evidence.............. 9

16.......... Failure of witnesses to attend or produce documents.......................... 9

17.......... Refusal to be sworn or give evidence................................................ 10

18.......... Acts or omissions on different days to constitute separate offences.. 10

19.......... False or misleading evidence............................................................. 10

20.......... Destroying documents or other things.............................................. 11

21.......... Intimidation or dismissal of witnesses.............................................. 11

22.......... Preventing witnesses from attending................................................. 12

23.......... Bribery of witness............................................................................. 12

24.......... Fraud on witness............................................................................... 12

25.......... Contempt of Commission................................................................. 13

Part 4—Operation of the Commission                                                                    13

26.......... Death or incapacity of Commissioner............................................... 13

27.......... Remuneration and allowances........................................................... 13

28.......... Staff of the Commission................................................................... 14

29.......... Protection of the Commissioner and others....................................... 14

30.......... Legal and financial assistance............................................................ 14

31.......... Reimbursement of witness expenses................................................. 15

32.......... Commission may communicate information..................................... 15

33.......... Rules................................................................................................. 16

 


A Bill for an Act to establish a Commission of Inquiry into Iron Ore Supply and Demand, and for related purposes

The Parliament of Australia enacts:

Part 1Preliminary

  

1  Short title

                   This Act may be cited as the Iron Ore Supply and Demand (Commission of Inquiry) Act 2015.

2  Commencement

             (1)  Each provision of this Act specified in column 1 of the table commences, or is taken to have commenced, in accordance with column 2 of the table. Any other statement in column 2 has effect according to its terms.

 

Commencement information

Column 1

Column 2

Column 3

Provisions

Commencement

Date/Details

1.  The whole of this Act

The day after this Act receives the Royal Assent.

 

Note:          This table relates only to the provisions of this Act as originally enacted. It will not be amended to deal with any later amendments of this Act.

             (2)  Any information in column 3 of the table is not part of this Act. Information may be inserted in this column, or information in it may be edited, in any published version of this Act.

3  Act binds Crown

                   This Act binds the Crown.

4  Definitions

                   In this Act:

Agency has the meaning given by section 7 of the Public Service Act 1999.

Agency Head has the meaning given by section 7 of the Public Service Act 1999.

Commission means the Commission of Inquiry into Iron Ore Supply and Demand established under section 6.

Commissioner means the Commissioner appointed under section 6.

Judge means a Judge of a court created by the Parliament or of the Supreme Court of a State or Territory.

legal practitioner means a barrister, a solicitor, a barrister and solicitor, or a legal practitioner, of the High Court or of the Supreme Court of a State or Territory.

offence against this Act includes an offence against Chapter 7 of the Criminal Code that relates to this Act.

President means the President of the Senate.

rules means rules made under section 33.

Speaker means the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

5  Ministerial responsibility for this Act

                   The Attorney‑General is the Minister responsible for administering this Act.

Part 2Commission of Inquiry into Iron Ore Supply and Demand

Division 1Establishment and functions of the Commission

6  Establishment of Commission

             (1)  A Commission is established by this subsection, to be known as the Commission of Inquiry into Iron Ore Supply and Demand.

             (2)  The Commission is constituted by a Commissioner appointed for this subsection by a resolution of each House of the Parliament.

             (3)  A person is not eligible for appointment as Commissioner unless the person is or has been a Judge.

7  Terms of reference

                   The Commission is to inquire and advise the Parliament on:

                     (a)  whether the increases in production of iron ore by certain companies:

                              (i)  have been a conscious effort to eliminate their competitors; or

                             (ii)  are simply a callous disregard for the interests of their shareholders and the countries in which they operate; and

                     (b)  the likely effect of any Government initiatives, along with those of other iron ore producing companies, to scale back production.

8  Report to the Parliament

             (1)  The Commission must submit to the President and the Speaker a report containing:

                     (a)  its findings of fact; and

                     (b)  any recommendations relevant to the inquiry that the Commissioner thinks fit.

             (2)  The report must be submitted on or before the end of the period of 3 months starting on the commencement of this section, unless that period is extended by a resolution of each House of the Parliament.

             (3)  The Commission must submit with its report a record of so much of the evidence before the Commission as the Commissioner thinks necessary to substantiate its findings of fact and its conclusions.

             (4)  If the Commission is of the opinion that, if any of its findings or conclusions or any of the evidence given before the Commission were to be laid before the Houses of the Parliament:

                     (a)  a person who has been or may be charged with an offence might not receive a fair trial for the offence; or

                     (b)  the conduct of an investigation of a breach or possible breach of the law, might be prejudiced; or

                     (c)  the existence or identity of a confidential source of information in relation to the enforcement or administration of the law might be disclosed or a person enabled to ascertain the existence or identity of that source; or

                     (d)  there might be prejudice to the safety or reputation of a person;

the Commission may submit those findings or conclusions, or that evidence, to the President and the Speaker in a separate report, together with a statement of its opinion.

             (5)  As soon as practicable after receiving the report and record of evidence, the President and the Speaker must cause copies of the report and record, other than a separate report submitted under subsection (4), to be laid before the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Division 2Powers of the Commission

9  Hearings

             (1)  For the purposes of its inquiry the Commission may hold hearings at places in Australia determined by the Commission.

             (2)  A hearing is to be public, unless the Commissioner thinks the circumstances in particular instances require otherwise.

             (3)  A person who appears before the Commission, or who is or is likely to be affected by evidence given before the Commission, may be represented by a legal practitioner.

             (4)  If a hearing is to be conducted in private, the only persons who may be present are persons authorised by the Commissioner and legal practitioners representing them.

             (5)  Subject to this Act, a hearing may be conducted as the Commissioner thinks fit.

             (6)  The Commission must make a record of a hearing.

             (7)  The following must not be published except in accordance with a direction of the Commissioner:

                     (a)  evidence given before the Commission;

                     (b)  the contents of a document, or a description of a thing, produced to the Commission or seized pursuant to a warrant issued under section 13;

                     (c)  any information that might enable a person who has given evidence before the Commission to be identified;

                     (d)  the fact that any person has given or may be about to give evidence at a hearing.

             (8)  The Commissioner must not give a direction to publish such material if to do so might prejudice the safety or reputation of a person or prejudice the fair trial of a person who has been or might be charged with an offence.

10  Counsel assisting the Commission

                   The Commission may appoint a legal practitioner to assist the Commission as counsel, either generally or in relation to a particular matter or matters.

11  Power to summon witnesses and take evidence

             (1)  The Commissioner may, by a written summons signed by the Commissioner and served on a person, summon the person to attend a hearing at a time and place specified in the summons:

                     (a)  to give evidence; or

                     (b)  to produce documents or things specified in the summons.

             (2)  At a hearing, the Commissioner may:

                     (a)  require a witness either to take an oath or to make an affirmation; and

                     (b)  administer the oath or affirmation to the witness.

             (3)  At a hearing, the following persons may, so far as the Commissioner thinks appropriate, examine or cross‑examine any witness on any matter that the Commissioner considers relevant:

                     (a)  counsel assisting the Commissioner;

                     (b)  a person summoned or otherwise authorised to appear before the Commissioner;

                     (c)  a legal practitioner representing a person authorised to appear before the Commissioner.

             (4)  The Commissioner may require a witness to answer any question that the Commissioner considers relevant.

12  Arrest of witness failing to appear

             (1)  If a person served with a summons to attend before the Commission as a witness fails to attend in accordance with the summons, the Commissioner may, on proof of the service of the summons, issue a warrant to arrest the person.

             (2)  A warrant authorises the arrest of the witness, the bringing of the witness before the Commission and the detention of the witness in custody for that purpose until the witness is released by order of the Commissioner.

             (3)  A warrant may be executed by any member of the Australian Federal Police or of the police force of a State or Territory, and the person executing the warrant has power to break and enter any place, building or vessel in order execute it.

             (4)  The arrest of the witness under this section does not relieve the witness from any liability incurred by reason of non‑compliance with the summons.

13  Search warrants

             (1)  The Commissioner may issue a search warrant if:

                     (a)  the Commissioner has reasonable grounds for suspecting that there may be relevant material, at that time or within the next 24 hours, upon any land or upon or in any premises, vessel, aircraft or vehicle; and

                     (b)  the Commissioner believes on reasonable grounds that, if a summons were issued for the production of the material, it might be concealed, lost, mutilated or destroyed.

             (2)  A search warrant authorises a member of the Australian Federal Police or of the Police Force of a State or Territory, in accordance with its terms:

                     (a)  to enter upon the land or upon or into the premises, vessel, aircraft or vehicle; and

                     (b)  to search the land, premises, vessel, aircraft or vehicle for relevant material; and

                     (c)  to seize any relevant items found upon the land or upon or in the premises, vessel, aircraft or vehicle and deliver things seized to the Commission; and

                     (d)  to make copies or extracts, including electronic copies or extracts, of any relevant documents found.

             (3)  A search warrant must:

                     (a)  state the purpose for which the warrant is issued; and

                     (b)  state whether entry is authorised to be made at any time of the day or night; and

                     (c)  include a description of the kinds of things authorised to be seized; and

                     (d)  specify a day, not later than one month after the date of issue of the warrant, at the expiration of which the warrant ceases to have effect.

             (4)  If, in the course of searching for relevant material in accordance with a search warrant, the person executing the warrant finds any other thing that the person believes on reasonable grounds to be connected with that material and the person believes on reasonable grounds that it is necessary to seize that thing in order to prevent its concealment, loss, mutilation or destruction, the warrant authorises the person to seize that thing.

             (5)  For this section, material or a document is relevant if it has evidential value relevant to the Commission’s inquiry.

14  Powers of Commission in relation to documents and other things

             (1)  The Commission, or a person authorised in writing by the Commissioner, may:

                     (a)  inspect any documents or other things produced before, or delivered to, the Commission; and

                     (b)  retain the documents or other things for so long as is reasonably necessary for the purposes of the Commission’s inquiry; and

                     (c)  in the case of documents produced before, or delivered to, the Commission, make copies of matter relevant to the Commission’s inquiry.

             (2)  When a document or other thing is no longer needed by the Commission for its inquiry, the Commission is to return the document or thing to the person who appears to be entitled to it, or deal with it at that person’s direction.

Part 3Offences

  

15  Unauthorised presence at hearing or publication of evidence

                   A person commits an offence if:

                     (a)  the person is present at a private hearing of the Commission without being authorised under subsection 9(4); or

                     (b)  the person publishes material in contravention of subsection 9(7).

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 6 months.

16  Failure of witnesses to attend or produce documents

             (1)  A person commits an offence if, when served with a summons to appear as a witness at a hearing before the Commission:

                     (a)  the person fails to attend as required by the summons; or

                     (b)  the person fails to attend from day to day unless excused, or released from further attendance, by the Commissioner.

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 6 months.

             (2)  It is a defence to a prosecution for an offence in subsection (1) if the person has a reasonable excuse.

             (3)  A person appearing as a witness at a hearing before the Commission commits an offence if the person refuses or fails to produce a document or other thing that the person was required to produce by a summons under this Act served on the person or that the person was required to produce by the Commissioner.

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 6 months.

             (4)  It is a defence to a prosecution for an offence in subsection (3) if:

                     (a)  the document or other thing was not relevant to the matter into which the Commission was inquiring; or

                     (b)  the person has a reasonable excuse.

17  Refusal to be sworn or give evidence

                   A person appearing as a witness at a hearing before the Commission commits an offence if, without reasonable excuse:

                     (a)  the person refuses or fails to comply when required pursuant to subsection 11(2) either to take an oath or make an affirmation; or

                     (b)  the person refuses or fails to answer a question that the person is required to answer by the Commissioner.

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 6 months.

18  Acts or omissions on different days to constitute separate offences

                   If a person commits an offence under section 17, and the person does or omits to do the same thing at a hearing of the Commission held on some other day, each such act or omission constitutes a separate offence.

19  False or misleading evidence

             (1)  A person commits an offence if, at a hearing before the Commission, the person gives evidence that is to the knowledge of the person false or misleading with respect to any matter that is material to the inquiry being made by the Commission.

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 5 years.

             (2)  A court of summary jurisdiction may hear and determine proceedings in respect of such an offence if the court is satisfied that it is proper to do so and the defendant and prosecutor consent.

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 12 months.

20  Destroying documents or other things

             (1)  A person commits an offence if, knowing or having reasonable grounds to believe that a document or other thing is or may be required in evidence before the Commission, the person wilfully:

                     (a)  conceals, mutilates or destroys the document or thing; or

                     (b)  renders the document or thing incapable of identification; or

                     (c)  in the case of a document, renders it illegible or indecipherable.

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 2 years.

             (2)  A court of summary jurisdiction may hear and determine proceedings in respect of such an offence if the court is satisfied that it is proper to do so and the defendant and the prosecutor consent.

21  Intimidation or dismissal of witnesses

             (1)  A person commits an offence if the person uses, causes, inflicts, or procures any violence, punishment, damage, loss or disadvantage to a person because the person appeared as a witness before the Commission or because of any evidence given by the person before the Commission.

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 5 years.

             (2)  An employer commits an offence if the employer dismisses an employee from employment or prejudices an employee in employment because the employee:

                     (a)  appeared as a witness before the Commission; or

                     (b)  gave evidence before the Commission; or

                     (c)  produced a document or thing pursuant to a summons or requirement under section 11.

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 5 years.

             (3)  Subsection (2) does not apply if the employee was dismissed or prejudiced in his or her employment for some reason other than the reasons listed in that subsection.

22  Preventing witnesses from attending

                   A person commits an offence if the person wilfully prevents or wilfully endeavours to prevent a person who has been summoned to attend as a witness before the Commission from attending or from producing anything in evidence in accordance with the summons.

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 12 months.

23  Bribery of witness

                   A person commits an offence if:

                     (a)  the person gives, confers, or procures, or promises or offers to give or confer, or to procure or attempt to procure, any property or benefit of any kind to, upon, or for, any person, upon any agreement or understanding that any person called or to be called as a witness before the Commission will give false testimony or withhold true testimony; or

                     (b)  the person attempts by any means to induce a person called or to be called as a witness before the Commission to give false testimony or to withhold true testimony; or

                     (c)  the person asks, receives or obtains or agrees or attempts to receive or obtain any property or benefit of any kind, whether for the person or for any other person, upon any agreement or understanding that any person will as a witness before the Commission give false testimony or withhold true testimony.

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 5 years.

24  Fraud on witness

                   A person commits an offence if the person practises any fraud or deceit, or knowingly makes or exhibits any false statement, representation, token, or writing, to any person called or to be called as a witness before the Commission with intent to affect the testimony of that person as a witness

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 2 years.

25  Contempt of Commission

                   A person commits an offence if:

                     (a)  the person wilfully disturbs or disrupts a hearing of the Commission; or

                     (b)  the person makes any statement that is false and defamatory of the Commission; or

                     (c)  the person commits any wilful contempt of the Commission.

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 12 months.

Part 4Operation of the Commission

  

26  Death or incapacity of Commissioner

                   If the Commissioner dies, becomes physically or mentally incapable of performing his or her functions or, by notice in writing to the President and the Speaker, resigns his or her appointment, the position of Commissioner becomes vacant and the Senate and the House of Representatives are to appoint a new Commissioner in accordance with subsection 6(2).

27  Remuneration and allowances

             (1)  The Commissioner is to be paid the remuneration and allowances applicable to an acting Justice of the Federal Court.

             (2)  If a Judge is appointed as the Commissioner, that person is not, while receiving salary or annual allowance as a Judge, entitled to remuneration under this Act.

             (3)  The person appointed as Commissioner ceases to hold office in that capacity 7 days after submitting the report of the Commission to the President and the Speaker.

28  Staff of the Commission

             (1)  Subject to subsection (2), the staff of the Commission are to be persons made available to the Commission by the President and the Speaker.

             (2)  The President and the Speaker may arrange with an Agency Head for the services of officers or employees in that Agency to be made available to the Commission.

             (3)  While a person is performing services for the Commission pursuant to this section, that person must perform his or her functions and duties in accordance with the directions of the Commissioner.

29  Protection of the Commissioner and others

             (1)  The Commissioner has, in the performance of his or her functions and the exercise of his or her powers, the same protection and immunity as a Justice of the High Court.

             (2)  A legal practitioner assisting the Commission or representing a person at a hearing before the Commission has the same protection and immunity as a barrister has in appearing for a party in proceedings in the High Court.

             (3)  Subject to this Act, a person summoned to attend or appearing before the Commission as a witness has the same protection as a witness in proceedings in the High Court.

30  Legal and financial assistance

             (1)  A person who is appearing or is about to appear, or a person who is entitled to appear, before the Commission may apply to the Minister for assistance under this section.

             (2)  The Minister must obtain the advice of the President and the Speaker in relation to an application.

             (3)  The President and the Speaker may, if they are satisfied that:

                     (a)  it would involve substantial hardship to the person to refuse the application; or

                     (b)  the circumstances of the case are of such a nature that the application should be granted;

request the Minister to authorise the provision by the Commonwealth to that person such legal or financial assistance in respect of that person’s appearance as the President and the Speaker determine.

             (4)  Any request by the President and the Speaker under this section is to be either subject to conditions or unconditional.

             (5)  The Minister must comply with a request under subsection (3).

31  Reimbursement of witness expenses

             (1)  A witness who appears before the Commission in answer to a summons may be paid expenses in accordance with the scale that applies to witnesses appearing before the High Court.

             (2)  The Commission may direct that a witness who appears before a Commission without a summons may be paid expenses in accordance with that scale.

             (3)  In applying that scale to a witness, the Commissioner has the powers and functions of the taxing officer.

32  Commission may communicate information

                   Where, in the course of its inquiry, the Commission obtains information that relates, or may relate, to the commission of an offence, or evidence of the commission of an offence against a law of the Commonwealth, of a State or of a Territory, the Commission may, if in the opinion of the Commission it is appropriate to do so, communicate the information or give the evidence to:

                     (a)  the Attorney‑General of the Commonwealth or of a State or Territory; or

                     (b)  the Australian Crime Commission; or

                     (c)  the Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police or of the Police Force of a State or Territory; or

                     (d)  the authority or person responsible for the administration or enforcement of that law.

33  Rules

             (1)  The Attorney‑General may, by legislative instrument (and subject to subsection (2)), make rules prescribing matters:

                     (a)  required or permitted by this Act to be prescribed by the rules; or

                     (b)  necessary or convenient to be prescribed for carrying out or giving effect to this Act.

             (2)  To avoid doubt, the rules may not do the following:

                     (a)  create an offence or civil penalty;

                     (b)  provide powers of:

                              (i)  arrest or detention; or

                             (ii)  entry, search or seizure;

                     (c)  impose a tax;

                     (d)  set an amount to be appropriated from the Consolidated Revenue Fund under an appropriation in this Act;

                     (e)  directly amend the text of this Act.