Federal Register of Legislation - Australian Government

Primary content

Specifications as made
This instrument specifies the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority Act 1988 as a designated program Act for the purposes of the multiple secrecy provision in section 16AB of the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988.
Administered by: Social Services
Registered 29 Jun 2011
Tabling HistoryDate
Tabled HR04-Jul-2011
Tabled Senate04-Jul-2011

EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

 

Child Support (Registration and Collection) (Designated Program Act) Specification 2011 (No. 1)

 

Background

 

The Human Services Legislation Amendment Act 2011 (the Amendment Act) integrates Medicare Australia and Centrelink into the Department of Human Services (DHS) from 1 July 2011.  The Department of Human Services is responsible for delivering the child support program through the Child Support Registrar, under the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988 (CS(R&C) Act) and the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989. 

The Amendment Act inserts a new section 16AB (the “multiple secrecy provisions”) into the CS(R&C) Act, with effect from 1 July.  Section 16AB sets out how secrecy laws apply in a situation where the Department of Human Services holds the same piece of information that it has obtained under two or more “designated program Acts”.  Section 16AB applies equally to information collected prior to 1 July 2011 and information obtained after 1 July 2011.

The effect of the multiple secrecy provisions is that where the Department of Human Services holds the same piece of information about a particular person under more than one program (such as child support and medicare), the Department is able to use and disclose that information if it complies with one of the secrecy provisions applicable to that information.

Further information on the operation of new section 16AB can be found at pages 96-98 of the Revised Explanatory Memorandum to the Human Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2011.

A list of designated program Acts is set out in subsection 16AB(3).  In addition, an Act may be a designated program Act if it is specified in a legislative instrument made by the Minister for the purposes of paragraph 16AB(3)(o).

The Child Support (Registration and Collection) (Designated Program Act) Specification 2011 (No. 1) (the Specification) specifies the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority Act 1988 (APRA Act) as a designated program Act for the purposes of paragraph 16AB(3)(o).  Specification of this Act as a designated program Act avoids any legal uncertainty as to which set of secrecy provisions should apply to customer information that is protected by this Act and another Act that DHS delivers services under.

Since the Amendment Act received Royal Assent on 25 May 2011, subsection 4(1) of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 allows the Minister to make the Specification under paragraph 16AB(3)(o) prior to the commencement of section 16AB.

DHS delivers the early release of superannuation benefits on compassionate grounds program (ROB program) on behalf of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).  The ROB program is conducted under the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations 1994 and the Retirement Savings Account Regulations 1997.

In the course of delivering the ROB program, DHS officers obtain information about customers that is protected information under section 56 of the APRA Act.  DHS may already hold some of this customer information for the purposes of another program that DHS delivers.  In many instances, this information would be protected by a different set of secrecy provisions that apply to DHS officers, such as the secrecy provisions in the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999.  For example, one of the grounds on which a person can seek early access to their superannuation benefits is severe financial hardship, which requires that a person have been in receipt of a Commonwealth income support payment for at least 26 continuous weeks. Specification of the APRA Act as a designated program Act avoids any legal uncertainty as to which set of secrecy provisions should apply to that customer information held by DHS.

Consultation

The Specification gives effect to Government policy on service delivery as enacted through the Amendment Act, by clarifying the secrecy regime that applies to certain programs delivered by the Department of Human Services. No public consultation in addition to that undertaken in connection with service delivery reforms and the Amendment Act was considered necessary.

The Specification commences on 1 July 2011, at the same time as section 16AB of the CS(R&C) Act.

No statutory preconditions needed to be satisfied prior to the making of the Specification.