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Wednesday, 4 June 2008
Page: 4604


Mr TRUSS (Leader of the Nationals) (5:18 PM) —by leave—I move the opposition amendment:

(1) Clause 12

Insert

12(1)a.  The Minister to seek recommendations for the appointment of commissioners from fishing industry representatives.

Insert

12(2)     amend to read: The CEO may not be appointed as the chairperson and must not otherwise hold office as a part time commissioner.

The opposition support the bill, as I indicated in my opening remarks in my speech in the second reading debate, but we believe that there are a couple of improvements that can be made. The improvements that we are proposing come to us as a result of consultation with the industry. The amendments have the support of industry and we believe that they will make AFMA work better.

The opposition share the concerns of the industry that the commissioner and the organisational component of AFMA must separate the policy setting and service delivery roles. They are important functions that AFMA has. There is also a need for there to be a separation in the way in which those roles are delivered. That is why the opposition are moving the amendment to legislate that the CEO be not eligible to also be appointed as a commissioner. We believe that the office of CEO is a service delivery and administrative role and therefore the occupant of that position should not also be a commissioner.

AFMA manages Commonwealth fisheries and is largely funded by the fishing industry. It is therefore fair that the industry should have the opportunity to make recommendations for the commissioner positions. It is appropriate that the industry should be able to identify candidates for the role and that the minister should have an obligation to seek nominations from the industry for these positions. Our proposed amendment does not require that the minister accept those recommendations, but there should at least be a formal process in place which ensures that the minister will seek advice from the industry about appropriate people for that role. Our amendment seeks to mandate a consultative process with the industry in the appointment of AFMA commissioners.

Industry support and involvement in AFMA policy development is vital to ensuring that AFMA continues to deliver the services the industry needs while protecting Australian Commonwealth fisheries. I think, therefore, that it is absolutely essential that the industry feels as though it has a direct role in the appointment of commissioners and the way in which this industry body functions.

I was somewhat concerned by a comment made by the member for Lyons, who has now left the chamber. It may have been a slip of the tongue but, as I heard it, he said that the CEO would be the chairman of the commission. That was not my understanding of the government’s intention and, therefore, the minister might care to clarify precisely whether the legislation just makes it an option or whether it is actually the intention of the government that one person would fill the two roles. I would be very concerned if in fact the comments of the member for Lyons were a reflection of what the intent is.