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The Pawnbrokers Act does not have a similar procedure or give the police the right to object to a licence application. Given that it is the only other occupational licensing scheme administered by the court, it seems sensible to provide for it to be brought into line with the other two Acts. Each of the legislative schemes seems to have, as one of its underlying elements, some control by police of occupations which at least have the potential to be involved with criminal activity. These Bills will amend the three Acts to provide for the police to furnish a certificate of criminal convictions, if any, to the court and to confer on the police a right to object to the grant or the renewal of a licence. The statutory requirement for a full police character check will be removed.
One reason why these perhaps otherwise unexceptional amendments may attract a little more than their fair share of attention is the age of two of the Acts - the Pawnbrokers Act 1902 and the Second-hand Dealers and Collectors Act 1906 - which are to be amended in conjunction with the Auctioneers Act 1959. I do not suppose that extreme old age confers an aura of venerability or even of respectability, but it is surely remarkable that legislation made in the early Edwardian era should remain in force and still being amended up to 93 years later. For that matter, even the Auctioneers Act 1959 is getting on in years now, having been made in the year after my predecessor and I were born.
Mrs Carnell: Show-off!
MR HUMPHRIES: Some of us have not reached 40 yet, Mr Speaker.
On a more serious note, the Auctioneers Act 1959 and the two New South Wales Acts - the Pawnbrokers Act 1902 and the Second-hand Dealers and Collectors Act - are unusual in that the Magistrates Court is the licensing authority. The trend in more recent times is to have a statutory office-holder or board which makes a decision from which an appeal lies to the Territory's Administrative Appeals Tribunal. When these schemes were introduced, there was no administrative law regime and the courts were the only decision-makers in occupational licensing schemes intended to protect the users of the services provided by the persons so licensed. However, a case can be made out for leaving this licensing function with the Magistrates Court. This is because it is, unfortunately, the case that there is the possibility for links between the activities of criminals and the occupations under consideration.
Let me briefly outline the proposed scheme for the three Acts. An application for a new licence would be made to the Magistrates Court. It would have to be accompanied by three written references furnished by persons who are electors of the Territory, qualified in terms of the Electoral Act 1992, and whose occupations are listed in the schedule to the Statutory Declarations Regulations made under the Statutory Declarations Act 1959 of the Commonwealth. If, for example, because of his or her recent arrival in Canberra, an applicant is unable to provide references from these people - or one of these people - the applicant will be able to seek leave of the court to use other referees.
The application would be referred to the Australian Federal Police, who would be required to furnish a certificate of the applicant's convictions, if any. The police would also be able to object to the court if it is considered that the applicant is not a fit and proper person to be licensed. Because auctioneers' applications must be advertised,