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Tuesday, 18 September 2012
Page: 11105


Mr TUDGE (Aston) (22:11): If there is one word that describes this government in putting forward these amendments, it is this: incompetence. I cannot remember the last bill they brought into this place that was complete, that had been done properly—where the government had gone through a proper consultation process, discussed it with the relevant sectors and stakeholders, actually got a finished product that they could be happy with, that everybody could be happy with, and presented it to the parliament for consideration. I cannot remember the last time they did that.

If this were an urgent measure, you could possibly forgive the government for rushing this bill through and maybe making a couple of minor mistakes which they needed to fix up on the floor of the parliament. But there is no urgency for this bill. There is no immediate crisis confronting the charitable and non-profit sector in Australia. There is no disgraceful situation that has occurred within one of the community organisations which the public is demanding the parliament fix immediately and, therefore, which we are rushing a bill through to address.

If this were a bill that addressed some of the disgraces occurring within the union movement—within the HSU, the AWU and others—then maybe we could understand the need to rush it through to address some of the things that are going on and that, consequently, we might need to correct one or two measures through amendments on the floor of this parliament. But there is no such thing here. This should have been a deliberative process that the government went through over a period of weeks, if not months. They should have sat down with the charitable and non-profit sector, described what they were planning to do, got feedback, put forward their revised proposal and, once they had some sort of agreement, taken that proposal to the parliament. Then we would have been able to consider this bill. But, no, they did not do that—of course they did not do that. Instead, there are nine individual amendments to this bill because of the incompetence of the government.

As the member for Menzies pointed out, we will agree to these amendments. In many ways, they are an improvement on the bill. One such improvement is that the school sector will no longer—at least, not for the next three years—have to report to another entity on top of their reporting to state government agencies, My School and various federal agencies. Of course, their ultimate accountability is to the parents themselves, who are paying the fees and sending their children to the school in the first place. So that amendment which has been put forward is a positive step, and we are happy with it. Of course, the three-year limit is still there, so in three years time the schools will still have to report to this commission, adding an additional layer of red tape.

But, at their heart, these amendments do not fix the fundamental problem with this bill. The problems are threefold. Firstly, they add an additional layer of red tape to a sector which is already overburdened with regulations, paperwork and red tape. Indeed, the Baptist Church of Australia said that, just to satisfy this bill, they will have to spend an additional $1 million per annum. From this day forward, when every Baptist Church across the country passes around the offertory bowl on a Sunday morning, part of their money will be going towards paying for the red tape which this bill imposes. That is a disgrace. They give that money to pay for the good work that the Baptist Church does in the community. And it is not just the Baptist Church; this applies to every church across the community. The second problem is that the detail is not provided in the bill; rather, the detail is going to be provided in the regulation. And, finally, the bill gives too much power to this commission in part to remove ministers of the church, which is a disgrace. This bill should be rejected. (Time expired)