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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 3152 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

As well as preventing the registration of undesirable names, the act permits changes of names only to persons who are resident in the territory, refuses a name change where it is suspected that the change is being made for fraudulent purpose, provides for the notation of the person's birth certificate in the state of birth and establishes mechanisms linking birth and death records around Australia. Better protection of personal privacy is provided because access to birth records where changes of names are recorded is restricted in accordance with a policy that allows only limited categories of persons with a genuine interest to examine the birth record.

I understand that this bill brings us into line with every other state and the northern territory except Queensland. I am not quite sure what Queensland is doing, but that is a matter for that state. This bill is certainly something which registrars-general across the country have been keen to see introduced. I understand also the Australian Federal Police and other law enforcement agencies are keen to see this type of legislation enacted. Mr Speaker, the opposition will be supporting the bill.

MS DUNDAS (11.18): The Democrats also will be supporting this bill. It is a very simple bill and it fixes up what I believe to be an oversight in the legislation. It is interesting to ponder how we had a situation where the exemption that we are fixing up today did actually come into being in terms of those under the age of 18 being able to register name changes in a different way. This legislation just fixes up that small oversight and brings everything into line and I think that it will make the system a lot clearer. I am happy to support the bill.

MS TUCKER (11.19): The Greens also will be supporting the Registration of Deeds Amendment Bill. This bill tightens the process for registering changes of names by removing the option of a name change being a matter that can be officially recognised by a registration of deeds, leaving the only option being acceptance by the registrar in accordance with the Births, Deaths and Marriages Act.

Traditionally, there were those two methods, but gradually the other jurisdictions have removed the deed poll option. The ACT and Queensland are, I understand, the only two jurisdictions which still have the deed poll option. The fees are the same for both systems, but there are more opportunities for background checks and for liaison with interstate registrars when the process is done by the Registrar-General's Office.

Name change processes have become a concern federally because of investigations into various types of fraud in which people have found it easy to construct multiple identities and then carry on fraudulent businesses or to receive grants for assistance in this way. This can be done by inventing names or by taking on the identity of people who have died. There have been cases in which an identify was established so that a person could pose as the owner of a house and then sell the house, although they had no legal rights to the property.

The Australian Passports Office announced recently that from 1 September this year they will not accept name changes based only on deed polls. The Registrar-General, I am informed, recently tightened the process. The office will no longer approve name changes on the spot. There are police checks and the office liaises with interstate registrars to both pass on information about the name change and check on identities.

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