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Thursday, 18 June 2009
Page: 6536


Ms MACKLIN (Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) (12:19 PM) —by leave—I present a supplementary explanatory memorandum to the bill and move government amendments (1) to (5) as circulated together:

(1)    Clause 4, page 3 (after line 15), after the definition of Indigenous, insert:

Indigenous Affairs Minister, of a State or Territory, means the Minister of the State or Territory who is responsible for the administration of matters relating to Indigenous affairs.

(2)    Clause 4, page 4 (after line 1), after the definition of specified remote community, insert:

State or Territory Coordinator-General has the meaning given by subsection 9A(3).

(3)    Clause 5, page 4 (after line 8), after subclause (2), insert:

      (2A)    Before the Minister specifies the remote location under subsection (2), the Minister must consult with the Indigenous Affairs Minister of the State or Territory about the proposal to specify the remote location.

(4)    Page 7 (after line 4), at the end of Division 2 of Part 2, add:

9A  Requests to be made through State and Territory Coordinators-General

         (1)    The Coordinator-General may make a request (the original request) under this Act to a member of the staff of a service agency of a State or Territory only by:

              (a)    requesting the relevant State or Territory Coordinator-General to give the original request to that member of the staff of the service agency; and

              (b)    the State or Territory Coordinator-General giving the original request to the member.

Note:   If a State or Territory Coordinator-General fails to comply with a request under paragraph (1)(a), the Coordinator-General may report the failure: see section 16.

         (2)    However, if the Coordinator-General is not satisfied that the State or Territory Coordinator-General has complied with the request made under paragraph (1)(a), the Coordinator-General may make the original request by:

              (a)    requesting the head of the service agency to give the original request to that member of the staff of the service agency; and

              (b)    the head of the service agency giving the original request to the member.

Note:   If the head of a service agency fails to comply with a request under paragraph (2)(a), the Coordinator-General may report the failure: see section 16.

         (3)    The relevant State or Territory Coordinator-General is the person (if any) nominated by the Indigenous Affairs Minister of the State or Territory.

(5)    Clause 16, page 11 (after line 30), after paragraph (1)(b), insert:

            (ba)    a State or Territory Coordinator-General fails to comply with a request made by the Coordinator-General under paragraph 9A(1)(a); or

            (bb)    the head of a service agency fails to comply with a request made by the Coordinator-General under paragraph 9A(2)(a); or

I will just make a few brief remarks about these amendments, and I appreciate the opposition’s support for the way we are proceeding. The amendments that I am moving are in response to a few concerns raised by state governments and, in particular, to those raised by the Western Australian government, and we appreciate their active interest in this whole approach.

Clause 5 of the bill is amended to provide consultation with a state or territory government before the minister specifies a remote location as one for which the coordinator-general will have oversight. It is the case that the Council of Australian Governments Remote Service Delivery Strategy provides for ongoing consultation between jurisdictions. This amendment provides for specific consultation. The provision will be necessary as over time the intention certainly is for the Remote Service Delivery Strategy to move beyond the initial priority locations that I announced in Perth a few months ago to a new tranche of priority communities.

There is also a new clause, 9A, inserted to provide that the coordinator-general, when making requests to staff of a service agency, may do so only by requesting that the relevant state or territory coordinator-general give the original request to those staff. The amendment also provides that, where such a request is not passed on by the state or territory coordinator-general, the Commonwealth coordinator-general could give the request to the head of the state or territory agency. This clause will ensure that there is a clear and formal line of communication specified in the legislation. The other amendments are technical and consequential and I will not make any further remarks about those.

These amendments are small but important and designed to improve the workability of the legislation to make sure that the rights and responsibilities of state and territory governments are not affected. They are consistent with the broad thrust of the bill and certainly do not change its intent. Rather, they clarify a number of potentially ambiguous points and reflect our commitment to work very closely with the states and territories in the rollout of our Remote Service Delivery Strategy. I recommend the amendments to the House.