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Thursday, 16 February 2012
Page: 1576

Mr BRADBURY (LindsayParliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer) (09:21): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Financial Framework Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2012 would, if enacted, amend four acts and repeal two acts across three portfolios. This will help to clarify aspects of the Commonwealth’s financial framework.

It is the ninth financial framework legislation amendment bill since 2004. It forms part of an ongoing program to address financial framework issues as they are identified, taking a collaborative and whole-of-government approach.

The breadth of appropriation, governance and financial management issues across the government compels continued attention. For this reason, the Department of Finance and Deregulation works with all parts of government, in a strong culture of collaboration, to promptly address financial framework issues in legislation once issues emerge and solutions are designed.

Specifically, this bill would amend four acts, as follows.

First, the bill would amend the Auditor-General Act 1997 to clarify that the Auditor-General may accept an appointment under the Corporations Act 2001 as the auditor of any company that the Commonwealth controls. This will align the Auditor-General Act 1997 with amendments made to expand the meaning of Commonwealth control, which were made in 2008 to the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997.

Second, the bill would amend the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 itself to:

ensure that directors of Commonwealth authorities and wholly-owned Commonwealth companies (other than government business enterprises) prepare budget estimates as directed by the finance minister, rather than the responsible minister, consistent with ongoing practice over many years; and

ensure that directors of Commonwealth authorities and wholly-owned Commonwealth companies notify their responsible minister of any decisions regarding certain significant events (such as creating a subsidiary).

Third, the bill would amend two minor misdescribed provisions that appear in the Financial Framework Legislation Amendment Act 2010, which sought to update the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 (to replace references to 'common law and in equity', and 'common law or in equity', with the phrase 'under the general law').

And fourth, the bill would amend the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 to make the following four key changes:

first, to clarify the commencement date for determinations for special accounts, and ensure that certain determinations may commence on a day specified in the determination (if that day is later than the last day upon which a disallowance resolution could have been passed by the parliament);

second, to focus the operation of drawing rights on payments and remove the penalty relating to drawing rights;

third, to insert a new whole-of-government provision to enable the finance minister to set off, in whole or part, an amount owing to the Commonwealth by a person with an amount owing by the Commonwealth to the same person; and

last, to increase certain limits around which the finance minister may delegate to officials, in relation to the making of certain legislative instruments.

The bill would also repeal two acts that include redundant special appropriations, being the:

Appropriation (Development Bank) Act 1975; and

Car Dealership Financing Guarantee Appropriation Act 2009.

This bill is, accordingly, another step to help ensure that specific areas of the Commonwealth’s financial framework remain effective and up to date.

I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.