Deregistration for the non-payment of annual fee

Subdivision C and D marriage celebrants are subject to an annual registration fee, however Subdivisions A (Ministers of Recognised Religions) and B (Marriage Officers in State and Territoty BDMs) are not.

No discretion for the Registrar to not de-register - Section 39FB outlines the consequences of the non-payment

However it appears the Registrar does have discretion as to how much time the Registrar decides before the derigstration comes into force.

Instead of 2 weeks, why could this not be 6 months?

The Act implies an appeal process - see Section 34 but in fact  the AAT cannot reverse the de-registration process.

The AAT may be able to put a Stay Order in place to extend the time before the de-registration comes into effect - see here.

Why are only Subdivision C and D subject to this fee?

The rationale is that the government needs to provide staff  to regulate Commonwealth marriage celebrants as they are authorised as individuals who are not part of an organisational structure, such as a recognised religion or a state government body.

However the need for such regulation has not been demonstrated on the basis of problems with

  1. the vailidity of marriages performed by Commonwealth marriage celebrants, or
  2. the number of complaints about them currrently at aorund 0.03% of the 80,000 marriages pa performed by Commonwealth marriage celebrants.

Regardless of the above, the impact of the failure to pay the annual fee is disproportionate to the "offence" especially given that human and systems error occur frequently.

Some arguments are that the current legistration
  • lacks natural justice
  • no other profession has a one strike and you are out for the non-payment of one administrative fee
  • the fee is unfair as it is not applied to all marriage celebrants
  • affectis the marrying public who often spend considerable time choosing and working with a specific celebrant for their personalised marriage ceremony.
  • a waste of other celebrants fees for the MLCS to do all the follow up etc. for two months when a simple one-off fine of $600 for the first default would solve all the hassles.