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Tuesday, 25 March 1997
Page: 2458

Senator O'BRIEN(11.48 p.m.) —I will be brief, given the pressures that are being applied to us all to ensure that the program is progressed as quickly as possible in these last couple of sitting days. I wanted to very briefly touch upon what I think is an inevitable consequence of the Commonwealth Services Delivery Agency Bill. It is hard to discuss this bill without considering also the reform of employment services bill and the impact that it will have. The Service Delivery Agency, which Senator Faulkner has already spoken of in terms of our in principle support, will be part of a program to replace the CES's universal provision of a labour exchange service. It is the disappearance of that service which is of great concern to the Labor Party. If this bill were passed with the maintenance of that service, there would be a lot less disquiet about this proposal. Nevertheless, the Labor Party will be moving amendments which have been enumerated in the minority report.

They are amendments, firstly, to ensure that the Service Delivery Agency cannot both provide a service and regulate or independently monitor that service in the conduct of its functions; secondly, to require that any ministerial notification of the general policies of the Commonwealth government that are to apply in relation to that agency and the board or the employees be published in the agency's annual report—that was in relation to a concern about the legislation permitting the minister to require the board to observe the general policies of the government without that requirement to publish; thirdly, to require the board of the Service Delivery Agency to seek advice from the Remuneration Tribunal about the terms and conditions under which the chief executive officer holds office and to publish this advice in the agency's annual report; and, fourthly, to omit the provisions allowing the chief executive officer to employ staff outside the provisions of the Public Service Act, which was referred to by Senator Faulkner.

There are a great many aspects of the legislation which deserve some attention. I see that the minister is not quite in a position to address this matter. I indicate that I will not make any further comments in the interests of the expeditious passage of this piece of legislation.