- The Marriage Act provide for internal review by The Registrar of Celebrants of non-payment of the charge fess due to circumstances beyond the celebrants control.
- The Marriage Act provide for at least 60 days noitce for the payment of the celebrant registration charge after the day on which the first notice is sent. This would allow for notices to be sent before the end of the financial year, and grant greater flexibility for celebrant's to pay before the due date.
- The Regulations be changed such that The Registrar of Marriage Celebrants is required to
• send an initial notice at least 2 months before the Charge Date,
• followed by a reminder notice at least one month before the Charge Date and
• a third and final notice after registration charge by registered mail, threatening deregistration if the Celebrant registration charge is not paid within 21 days of the date of the final notice, then deregistration if the Celebrant registration charge is not paid within 21 days of the date of the final notice.
1. No allowance in the legislation for an interview review for failure to pay the celebrant charge due to circumstances beyond the celebrant's control, such as administrative errors by departmental staff or banking errors or being involved in a major health, family or other crisis within the existing 30day period for payment, that automatically should cause a notice to be de-registered to be sent to the celebrant.
2. No requirement in the Act that couples be notified of the transfer of their marriage documents to another celebrant, should a celebrant be de-registered, nor any allowance for the couple's right of choice of celebrant which is the key difference in the marriage services offered by Commonwealth celebrants.
3. The financial impact and emotional stress on the marrying public as due to an administrative system that does not minimise the risk of non-payment due to cirumstances beyond the celebrant's control, and the associated higher costs of collection of the annual fee due to inefficient government administrative systems.
4. The risk of litigation when an independent celebrants professional practice has been damaged by departmental error, and the high cost to government of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal work in addressing the consequences of an inefficient system, that discriminates against one group of marriage celebrants.
Note: Only Subdivision C celebrants are required to pay and annual fee for providing exactly the same civil service (witnessing and registering valid marriage under law) in behalf of the government to couples, regardless of the style of ceremony, civil or religious.
5. The need for notices to be sent to celebrants in advance of the end of the financial year, granting more flexible ways to ensure payment is made in advance before the due date, thus minimising administrative costs in issuing de-registration notices and handling the phone calls, emails and other contracts from distressed celebrants (or their relatives) trying to resolve the impact of unfair deregistration.
A. Details of recommendations:
- Add "39FA (3) (d) provide for internal review of the decision to de-register due to departmental administrative, banking or other errors or to circumstances beyond the celebrants control."
- Change Section 39FA Celebrant registration charge to read
"39FA (a) (ii) the charge payment day (being a day that is at least 60 days after the day on which the notice is sent);
- Change 39FB Celebrant registration charge: consequence of non-payment to read
(1) (a) the outcome of an application for internal review of a decision.
- Change Section 39FB (2) (a) Celebrant registration charge: consequence of non-payment to read
(a) advise the person that,
(i) the person has failed to pay celebrant registration charge by the Charge Date,
(ii) failure to pay the celebrant registration within 21days (after the day on which the notice is sent), the person will be deregistered as a marriage celebrant.
39FA Celebrant registration charge: liability to pay charge
(2) The Registrar of Marriage Celebrants must, in respect of a financial year, send each person who is a marriage celebrant on 1 July in the financial year, or who becomes a marriage celebrant on a later day in the financial year, a notice that:
(i) the amount of celebrant registration charge that is payable by the person (unless the person is granted an exemption); and
(ii) the charge payment day (being a day that is at least 30 days after the day on which the notice is sent); and
(b) complies with any other requirements prescribed by the regulations relating to the content of the notice, or how it is to be sent.
(3) The regulations may do all or any of the following:
(a) provide for the granting of exemptions, on grounds specified in the regulations, from liability to pay celebrant registration charge in respect of a financial year;
(b) require a fee to be paid in respect of an application for an exemption;
(c) provide for internal review of decisions to refuse to grant exemptions.
39FB Celebrant registration charge: consequence of non-payment
(1) If a person has not, by the end of the charge payment day, paid an amount of celebrant registration charge that the person is liable to pay, the Registrar of Marriage Celebrants must, as soon as practicable after that day, send the person a notice in accordance with subsection (2), unless the Registrar considers that the notice should not be sent at that time because the person’s liability to pay the charge may be affected by:
(a) the outcome of an application for internal review of a decision to refuse to grant an exemption; or
(b) any other circumstance of which the Registrar is aware.
Depending on the outcome of matters referred to in paragraph (a) or (b), it may turn out that the person is not liable to pay the charge.
(2) The notice referred to in subsection (1) must:
(a) advise the person that, because the person has failed to pay celebrant registration charge, the person will be deregistered as a marriage celebrant after the day specified in the notice (being a day that is at least 7 days after the day on which the notice is sent); and
(b) comply with any other requirements prescribed by the regulations relating to the content of the notice, or how it is to be sent.
(3) The Registrar of Marriage Celebrants must deregister the person as a marriage celebrant by removing his or her details from the register of marriage celebrants as soon as practicable after the day specified under paragraph (2)(a).
Note: If the person wishes to become a marriage celebrant again, the person may reapply under section 39D.