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Thursday, 16 June 2005
Page: 94


Senator ELLISON (Minister for Justice and Customs) (3:30 PM) —I present four government responses to committee reports as listed on today’s Order of Business, as well the government’s response to the 57th report of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties. In accordance with the usual practice, I seek leave to incorporate the documents in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The responses read as follows—

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO THE SENATE EMPLOYMENT, WORKPLACE RELATIONS AND EDUCATION REFERENCES COMMITTEE’S REPORT COMMONWEALTH FUNDING FOR SCHOOLS

Introduction

The Senate referred the Commonwealth funding for schools inquiry to the Employment, Workplace Relations and Education References Committee on 13 May 2004. The terms of reference for the inquiry covered the principles of Commonwealth funding for schools with particular emphasis on how these principles apply in meeting the current and future needs of government and non-government schools; and whether they ensure efficiency and effectiveness in the allocation of school funding. The committee also investigated accountability arrangements including through the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment and Youth Affairs.

The committee tabled its report on the inquiry in the Senate on 11 August 2004. The report makes 7 recommendations relating to these issues which have been considered by the Government in formulating this response.

Response to recommendations in the report

The Government’s response to each of the recommendations contained in the Senate Committee’s report is set out below.

Recommendation 1

The committee recommends that the Howard Government should accept responsibility for resolving the divisiveness its school funding decisions have generated, and that the Commonwealth should demonstrate leadership in developing a new national consensus on school funding, with a renewed focus on equity and a determination to raise the quality of education in schools that are poorly resourced to deal with under-achieving students.

Response

The Government does not support this recommendation. Much of the divisiveness that has arisen has been driven by misleading information produced by the Australian Education Union in an attempt to revive the State Aid debate.

The Australian Government has already responded to those students and schools in need of extra help, providing almost $5 billion over four years for special purposes. Of this, $2.1 billion will be invested in the education of the most disadvantaged students, with a focus on literacy, numeracy and help for students with disabilities. Another $2.5 billion will be spent on school buildings; $117 million will improve the educational experience of geographically isolated children; $246 million will help newly arrived students from non-English speaking backgrounds learn English; and $114 million will be provided for students to learn languages other than English.

The Australian Government’s SES funding formula is needs-based. It gives more funding to schools serving needy communities and less to schools serving wealthy communities. Maximum funding under the SES model, payable to schools serving the neediest communities, has been significantly increased from about 59% to 70% of the average cost of educating a student in a government school.

Recommendation 2

The committee recommends that the Australian Government accepts its responsibility for the support of high quality public school systems as a national priority, including the endorsement of the MCEETYA principles for schools resourcing.

Response

The Australian Government has always supported high quality public school systems. Over the next four years, the Australian Government will provide $10.8 billion to the states and territory governments in specific funding for their state schools. This is a $2.9 billion increase over the current four year period and will continue to provide funding increases to state schools of around 6 per cent per annum. Total funding in 2004-05 will be 79 per cent higher than that provided in 1996.

The Australian Government’s general recurrent funding for state schools over the next quadrennium represents a 39 per cent increase over the current four year period.

The Australian Government did not endorse the funding principles developed by MCEETYA because they were developed without consultation with the non-government sector, representing one third of Australian students. As the Australian Government is committed to collaboration with all stakeholders and to effective choice for parents educating their children, it could not endorse these principles as an agreed framework to apply to education funding within Australia.

Recommendation 3

The committee recommends that the Commonwealth note the overwhelming evidence put before the inquiry on the flawed nature of its funding arrangements for non-government schools, including:

  • failure to take into account the total resources available to a non-government school in assessing relative need for funding;
  • adoption of a funding scale that has provided the largest increases in funding to non-government schools that were already operating well above the resource standards in government schools; and
  • creation of instability and insecurity in the post 2008 funding for the 50 per cent of non-government schools that are in one of the two funding maintained categories for the 2005-2008 quadrennium, including 60 per cent of schools in Catholic systems.

Response

The SES approach, unlike the Education Resources Index (ERI) system which it replaced, is transparent and objective, based on independent data that are consistent for all schools. One of the key principles that underpin the SES model is that private investment in education should not be discouraged and, therefore, it does not take into account a school’s private income from fees or any other sources.

The Australian Government is aware of the need for stability and certainty in the schools sector and will ensure that the sector is consulted early on arrangements for the 2009-2012 quadrennium.

The issue of the funding for the so-called ‘wealthy’ schools has attracted considerable media attention largely due to the misleading campaigns of the Australian Education Union and the Australian Labor Party who have endeavoured to make the public believe that the high fee schools receive the most amount of public funding of any school in Australia—government or non-government.

The facts are that the higher fee schools receive the least amount of public funding per student, typically a quarter of that provided to a state government school. The Australian Government believes that all students should receive some public financial assistance towards their education, regardless of the school they attend. The SES model provides the greatest level of assistance to non-government schools serving the neediest communities, and the least assistance to those serving the wealthiest.

Recommendation 4

The committee recommends that the SES non-government school funding model should be linked to the economic capacity of school communities, modified to include sources of private income including fees and linked to the educational needs of each school and its students.

Response

The Australian Government does not support this recommendation. The SES policy ensures that schools are not penalised for raising private income. The Australian Government believes that parents should not be discouraged from investing in their children’s education.

Recommendation 5

The committee recommends that the Commonwealth, through MCEETYA, should exercise its responsibility to ensure that financial data regarding school income and expenditure, whether on an aggregated or disaggregated basis, is provided and publicly presented and reported in a standard format, using a single accounting basis and reporting period. In the case of non-government schools, this data, both aggregated and disaggregated to the school level, should be provided to the Commonwealth in a standard format on an annual basis, and tabled in the Parliament. Provision of full financial information in this manner should be a condition for receipt of recurrent funding.

Response

The Australian Government believes the public funding of all schools should be fully transparent. The Australian Government has published the estimated annual general recurrent grant funding from the Commonwealth for every non-government school or non-government school system in Australia. Figures have been published for every year from 2003 to 2008. The Australian Government believes that the States and Territories should be as equally transparent as the Commonwealth.

Recommendation 6

The committee recommends that accountability provisions regarding non-government schools should be strengthened to require reporting by schools on a range of matters including:

  • enrolment of students with disabilities;
  • enrolment of Indigenous students;
  • admission and exclusion policies;
  • teaching staff;
  • curriculum; and
  • discipline policies.

Response

The Australian Government does not support this recommendation. The items listed by the Committee would simply add unnecessary reporting without driving genuine improvements in schools. In contrast a key feature of the 2005-2008 quadrennium legislation is a greatly enhanced performance framework. The strengthened accountability and reporting requirements will reinforce the link between the funding provided under Australian government programmes and improved outcomes for all Australian students. These requirements will underpin the Australian Government’s national priorities in schooling. Key elements are included as conditions of funding in schools legislation for 2005-2008, including:

  • greater national consistency in schooling, including starting ages, and curriculum and testing standards;
  • commitment to achieve performance targets for Year 3, 5 and 7 literacy and numeracy and to report against performance measures for Year 3, 5 and 7 literacy and numeracy;
  • report to parents their child’s performance against the Year 3, 5 and 7 benchmarks literacy and numeracy;
  • better reporting to parents, including plain language reports and meaningful information on school quality;
  • transparency of school performance;
  • greater autonomy for school principals;
  • creating safer school environments;
  • common commitment to physical activity; and
  • making values a core part of schooling.

The requirement for all schools to publish and make readily accessible a range of school performance information will include such information as academic outcomes, curriculum offerings such as what vocational, education and training options are offered, school leaver destinations, the professional qualifications of teachers and professional development undertaken by teachers. Reporting against measures and targets such as the literacy and numeracy benchmarks, will include reporting by students’ sex, Indigenous status, socioeconomic background, language background and geographic location using the national definitions being agreed through MCEETYA.

The Australian Government accountability and reporting requirements apply equally to government and non-government schools.

Recommendation 7

The committee recommends that, pending discussions with state and territory governments through normal MCEETYA processes, the Government should be mindful of the rights of states and territories to legislative and administrative autonomy with regard to the operation of schools. The Government should not use school funding legislation as a vehicle to impose on the states and territories policies and practices that would normally be the subject of agreement through MCEETYA.

Response

The Australian Government is the single largest funder of school education. As such it has the right to set financial, policy and administrative directions. The Australian Government will exercise its leadership role in schooling in areas where national reform is required. This may involve consideration by Ministers through MCEETYA processes on specific matters. However the Australian Government has the right and the responsibility to attach conditions to its very significant schools funding to ensure that important reforms are implemented.


INQUIRY INTO ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW OF VETERAN AND MILITARY COMPENSATION AND INCOME SUPPORT

I refer to your Committee’s report on Administrative Review of Veteran and Military Compensation and Income Support which was tabled on 4 December 2003.

I have noted the four recommendations made in the report to which I make the following responses:

Recommendation 1

The Committee recommends that the Australian National Audit Office conduct an audit of the reported practice of the Military Compensation and Rehabilitation Scheme using private law firms for the purpose of the entire reconsideration of the original decision. It also recommends that DVA, in consultation with the ANAO, establish guidelines for private law firms in providing advice to ensure that the authority of delegated decision-makers is not being bypassed. (Para 5.54)

Response

Agreed in principle, although I note that the program of ANAO audits is a matter for the Auditor General. Guidelines on the use of private law firms have been agreed by the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission, which assumed responsibility for the Military Compensation and Rehabilitation Service on 1 July 2004. Those guidelines will be reviewed by the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission in the light of any subsequent ANAO recommendations.

Recommendation 2

The Committee recommends that the future administrative review process under the new Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Scheme (MRCS) should be the same for all ADF and ex-ADF personnel. All appeals to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal should be heard by one Division which might be titled the Military Division. This new process does not apply to the existing review process under the MCRS (Para 5.68).

Response

Agreed and already adopted in part.

The Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) provides appeal paths that are available to all claimants. These appeal paths are the same for both current and former ADF personnel.

The recommendation for one Division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to deal with claims under the MRCA and the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 is a matter for the consideration by the President of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the Attorney-General as this would require an amendment to regulation 4A of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Regulations 1976 (AAT Regulations). I am able to advise the Committee that agreement in principle has already been reached with both the President of the AAT and the

Attorney-General for such an amendment to be made to the AAT Regulations to implement this part of the recommendation.

Recommendation 3

The Committee recommends that in order for ex-service organisations (ESOs) to provide an adequate and sustainable advocacy service, funding arrangements for the TIP and BEST programs should be reviewed in order to improve the effectiveness of the programs. Funding for the programs should be on at least a bi-annual basis to enable ESOs to make better use of their available financial resources. (Para 5.94)

Response

Agreed in part. As part of the ‘Saluting Their Service’ election commitment, the Coalition Government committed additional funding of $9.2m over 4 years for BEST and TIP. The BEST grants will be increased by $1.7m per year and TIP by $0.6m per year. An additional round of grants funding and TIP allocation will occur this year to take account of the additional funding.

I have responsibility to allocate the BEST grants money and the Department allocates the TIP funding at the beginning of the financial year. This allows the ESOs to plan their activities and allocate resources for the full financial year. In addition one round per year minimises administrative requirements for the applicants. It is our understanding that the majority of the ESO community would wish to continue this arrangement. Therefore it is proposed to continue with the existing one allocation of funding per year.

Recommendation 4

The Committee recommends that a two-year trial be initiated in one State with the agreement of the veterans organisations in that State for a variation to the existing review process. That new process should include:

  • the introduction into the VRB of pre-hearing mediation and conciliation processes as currently employed in the AAT including the presence of the claimant, the advocate and the DVA;
  • an increased use of VRB Registrars to ensure that applications are not deficient with regard to all necessary supporting material, including medical evidence;
  • enhancement of medical disbursements prior to the VRB. The disbursements are to be equivalent in value to those currently available at the AAT, but once they are taken they are not to be made available a second time should there be a further appeal to the AAT; and
  • the same legal aid provisions that exist under the current review mode (Para 7.34).

The Committee also recommends that DVA undertake a review of the trial at the conclusion of the two-year period. The review should assess the outcomes of the trial against a set of performance indicators to determine whether there is scope either to extend the trial period or introduce the revised VRB process in other States and on a permanent basis. The review and any decision to introduce a revised process should proceed in consultation with all major stakeholders (Para 7.35).

Response

Not generally agreed. While the scope for earlier resolution of applications for review is supported, the particular strategy proposed in the recommendation would give rise to certain anomalies and administrative difficulties.

The essential concerns about the general proposal are as follows:

  • It would create a two tier system at the intermediate level of external review. Hence a preliminary conference at the VRB could be seen as simply another step in an already full hierarchical system consisting of a primary decision, internal review under section 31 of the VEA, review at the VRB, preliminary conferences on an appeal to the AAT, and a substantive hearing before the AAT.
  • The proposed trial could only go ahead if the Repatriation Commission were represented at the preliminary conference. This in itself may cause difficulty in that the present quality of veterans’ advocates is variable and participation in a conciliation conference is possibly beyond some of the veterans’ advocates that presently appear at the VRB. It has the potential to introduce an adversarial element in a review process in which the Repatriation Commission currently chooses to exclude itself. This would be counter-productive to the stated aim of early resolution of claims.
  • It would call for a staff restructuring at the VRB which would be expensive. The Repatriation Commission would also require additional resources to provide representation.
  • It would eliminate the element of service experience in the first step in external review. At the present time each VRB panel includes a Services Member. The ex-service community places considerable importance on the presence of this member in the 3 member, intermediate level tribunal. Provision for a conference registrar would eliminate this aspect, at least as a first step in external review.
  • If a preliminary conference failed to resolve an appeal it would simply add to the time taken to reach completion.
  • The enhancement of medical disbursements prior to the VRB is not agreed at this time. The proposal would seem to create a risk of greatly expanded cost for the larger number of applications dealt with at the VRB. Should further medical reports be necessary it is open to the VRB to request such reports from the Repatriation Commission under section 152 of the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986.
  • While the legal aid recommendation is agreed to in principle, it is noted that legal aid is the responsibility of, and a matter for implementation by, the Attorney-General’s Department.

As an alternative, the VRB is presently upgrading staff and developing new roles to improve the process of resolution of appeals at the VRB level.

A general concern has arisen out of the number of ‘unrepresented’ applicants who often do not understand the material that must be considered or the type of information that should be presented to the VRB. The general aim is to train staff to a level that they can discuss such issues with veterans—initially the ‘unrepresented’ veterans (or widows) and subsequently any veteran, widow or representative. The staff will not be expected to ‘make a case’ for an applicant but should be in a position to indicate the particular decision-making steps of the VRB and the place of particular supporting material in those steps.

This alternative recognises the complexity of the VEA, the variable quality of ex-service organisation representation, the fact that in some cases veterans do not seek any assistance, and the utility of careful collation of all relevant supporting material prior to a VRB hearings. The process should be built into the usual presentation of material to a hearing and would complement the Committee’s recommendation about enhanced use of the VRB Registrars. It would not require attendance by the Repatriation Commission.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this report.


GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS, DEFENCE AND TRADE REVIEW OF THE DEFENCE ANNUAL REPORT 2002-03

Recommendation 1:

The committee recommends that in 2005 Defence should undertake another review of the conditions of service for Australian Defence Force members on the Army ATSIC Community Assistance Program (AACAP) projects to ensure that there are no anomalies in conditions of service and that they are commensurate with the work performed. (paragraph 4.24)

Government Response:

Agreed. Defence will undertake a review of the ATSIC Army Community Assistance Program conditions of service in 2005. The scope of the review will focus on whether current allowance rates appropriately recognise the arduous conditions and duration of the ATSIC Army Community Assistance Program tasks.

The Army is to undertake two further related reviews in 2005. The Army has recognised the potential inequities in relation to the remuneration rates of electricians in various Corps. This situation is scheduled for review in August 2005. The Army construction trades remuneration rates were last review in 1996. These trades are scheduled for review in May 2005.

Recommendation 2:

The committee recommends that the Australian Defence Force consider developing, in consultation with relevant government agencies, programs similar to New Zealand’s Youth Life Skill (YLS) and Limited Services Volunteers (LSV) programs. (paragraph 4.39)

Government Response:

Not agreed. Defence already actively supports, and makes a significant investment in, youth development through its commitment to the Australian Defence Force Cadets, the sail training ship Young Endeavour and participation in state and territory work experience programs for secondary school students.

The Australian Defence Force Cadets provide thousands of young Australians with opportunities to experience Service life and develop important life skills, such as self-discipline, teamwork and leadership. Defence allocates approximately $38 million per year to support over 24,000 cadets in over 480 locations across every state and territory of Australia.

The Navy also operates and maintains the sail training ship Young Endeavour and the Young Endeavour Youth Scheme. The scheme provides young Australians with a unique, challenging and inspirational experience that increases their self-awareness, develops their teamwork and leadership skills and creates a strong sense of community responsibility.

Defence also participates in state and territory work experience programs for secondary school students. Opportunities exist for young Australians to seek placements at Defence establishments to broaden their perspective regarding employment opportunities and develop an understanding of the Defence environment.

In preparing this response, Defence consulted with the Department of Family and Community Services which raised a number of issues and concerns about the Youth Life Skill and Limited Services Volunteers programs, including possible duplication with existing initiatives, such as ‘Outward Bound’, and funding priorities in the context of existing programs. The Department also advised preliminary findings from a study of young people participating in existing youth development programs1 suggest that programs that have the most potential to instil positive change are those that work with young people over a continuous period of time and are strongly grounded in schools. This strongly contrasts with aspects of the Youth Life Skill model, which is based on exposure to training and values education in a camp environment over a few days.

Recommendation 3:

The committee recommends that, at the start of the next Parliament, the Minister for Defence requests the committee to conduct an inquiry into the ability of the Australian Defence Force to maintain air superiority in our region to 2020. (paragraph 5.101)

Government Response:

Not Agreed. The Defence Capability Plan makes sufficient provision to maintain Australia’s air combat capability at a level at least comparable qualitatively to any in the region. The Government continues to monitor regional developments and, were there a need to, the Government would adjust the Defence Capability Plan.

Recommendation 4:

The committee recommends that, in 2006, the Government should make a statement focusing on:

  • the most accurate delivery date for the replacement combat aircraft;
  • the implications this date will have on the decision to retire the F-111 in 2010;
  • the need to ensure that key upgrades and deep maintenance on the F-111 continues through to 2010 with the possibility of extending the lifespan should the need arise; and
  • the measures the Government will take to ensure that Australia’s superiority in air combat capability in the region is maintained. (paragraph 5.102)

Government Response:

Partially Agreed. The ADF New Aerospace Combat Capability is an important issue on which announcements by the Government can be expected at key milestones. Similarly, the Government will make relevant announcements relating to other air combat capabilities such as F/A-18 Electronic Warfare Self Protection, Tactical Air Defence Radar Systems, Airborne Early Warning and Control.

   1 The study, funded over three years by the Australian Government, has been completed and the report is expected to be completed in April or May 2005.


GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO THE REPORT OF THE JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE ON THE NATIONAL CAPITAL AND EXTERNAL TERRITORIES A NATIONAL CAPITAL, A PLACE TO LIVE: INQUIRY INTO THE ROLE OF THE NATIONAL CAPITAL AUTHORITY

Introduction

The Annual Report of the National Capital Authority (NCA) stands referred to the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories (the Committee) for any inquiry the Committee wishes to make. On 26 March 2003, the Committee resolved to use the NCA’s Annual Report for 2001-02 as the basis for conducting an inquiry and reporting on the role of the NCA. On 31 March 2004, the Committee extended the inquiry to incorporate a review of the NCA’s Annual Report for 2002-03.

The Australian Government (the government) established the NCA when self-government was introduced for the Australian Capital Territory (the Territory) in 1989. On behalf of the Commonwealth the NCA, through the National Capital Plan, is responsible for ensuring that “Canberra and the Territory are planned in accordance with their national significance”. Under its establishing legislation the NCA also has responsibility for the maintenance, development, enhancement and promotion of the national capital aspects of Canberra and the Territory.

The ACT Government, through the Territory Plan, is responsible for ensuring “the planning and development of the Territory to provide the people with an attractive, safe and efficient environment in which to live and work and have their recreation”. Any proposed variations to the Territory Plan are considered by the NCA to ensure their consistency with the National Capital Plan.

The ACT Government has established the ACT Planning and Land Authority (the ACT Authority) and the Land Development Agency which effectively manage planning for the majority of land in the Territory.

The Committee’s Report

On 2 July 2004, the Committee presented to Parliament its report a national capital, a place to live: Inquiry into the role of the National Capital Authority (the report).

The report acknowledges those aspects of Canberra that make it unique—Canberra is a purpose built national capital on the one hand, and an evolving city and community on the other. The report further acknowledges the role that the NCA plays in securing the government’s continuing interest in the planning and development of the national capital.

The report also notes that, in the Committee’s view, there is considerable confusion and frustration in relation to the responsibilities of the NCA and the ACT Government for the various elements of planning in the Territory.

The report concludes that a critical issue to resolving any complications experienced by users of the current planning system is the matter of overlapping jurisdictions. It notes that both the NCA and the ACT Authority agree that it is desirable to eliminate multiple planning and development control responsibilities in any one area.

The report includes a series of recommendations which the Committee believes would simplify the planning regime in the ACT and create a more integrated approach to planning.

The report notes the imperative that the planning authorities’ decision-making processes are consistent, transparent and accountable. To achieve this, the report recommends the introduction of statutory consultation and appeal processes, wider representation on the NCA and an independent and comprehensive review of the National Capital Plan. It also recommends a reduction in Designated Areas and that responsibility for planning arterial roads is transferred to the ACT Government.

THE GOVERNMENT’S RESPONSE

Recommendation 1:

That the Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management) Act 1988 (Cth) be amended to include a requirement for all draft amendments to the National Capital Plan and proposed works in the Parliamentary Zone to be referred to this Committee for its consideration.

Disagree.

The Resolution of Appointment is the source of authority for the establishment and operations of the Committee. The current Resolution was passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate on 18 November 2004 and provides that the Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads (the Minister) may refer draft amendments to the National Capital Plan to the Committee for its consideration. While it has generally been the government’s practice to refer draft amendments to the National Capital Plan to the Committee, the government considers that the Minister should retain the discretion to do so.

Works within the Parliamentary Zone require the approval of the NCA as well as the approval of both Houses of Parliament. The current Resolution provides that matters coming within the terms of section 5 of the Parliament Act 1974 (works in the Parliamentary Zone) may be referred to the Committee by either House of Parliament; the Minister responsible for administering the Parliament Act 1974; or the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Some works are not referred to Parliament because they are considered to be of a trivial or temporary nature. The practice is for a quarterly report of such works to be referred by the Minister to the Committee for information. The government is of the view that the current arrangements provide the Committee with adequate opportunity to consider works within the Parliamentary Zone.

Recommendation 2:

That an integrated approach be adopted by the Territory and Commonwealth planning authorities for future planning projects affecting both Territory and Commonwealth planning policies.

Agree.

There are currently routine liaison meetings between the NCA and the ACT Authority. There is also cross representation on a number of committees, advisory panels and/or project working groups with some projects being co-funded. Since August 2004, the ACT Authority has been invited to attend each NCA meeting with a standing agenda item to discuss matters of mutual interest.

The Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management) Act 1988 (the Act) requires the NCA to consult with the ACT Authority regarding any proposed amendments to the National Capital Plan, to have regard to any views expressed by it and to alter the draft if it thinks fit. The NCA must advise the Minister in writing of the consultations and views of the ACT Authority. There is also provision in the Act for the Minister to consult with the ACT Government in circumstances where the ACT Authority continues to object to a draft amendment.

Recommendation 3:

That Section 33 of the Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management) Act 1988 (Cth) be amended to provide for an increase in the number of members on the National Capital Authority to six (excluding the Chairperson and Chief Executive), and that:

  • three of the six members be appointed from other states and territories on a rotational basis; and
  • the full-time Chief Executive be appointed in an ex-officio role as a non-voting member of the Authority.

Recommendation 4:

That the Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management) Act 1988 (Cth) be amended to include the provision for an independent appeals process against National Capital Authority decisions regarding works approvals, in addition to the current option for review under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth).

Recommendation 5:

That, in addition to Recommendation 3, the Federal Government negotiate with the ACT Government to initiate reciprocal representation on the respective boards of the National Capital Authority and the ACT Planning and Land Council, and that Section 33(1) of the Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management) Act 1988 (Cth) and the relevant Territory legislation be amended to facilitate this.

Recommendations 3, 4 and 5:

Noted, pending further consideration.

The government announced in August 2004 that responsible ministers are to assess their portfolio statutory bodies against principles and recommendations contained in the Review of the Corporate Governance of Statutory Authorities and Office Holders (the Uhrig report). The assessment of the NCA is expected to consider its roles and responsibilities, appropriate governance structure and stakeholder relationships. It is appropriate that the Committee’s Recommendations 3, 4 and 5 are considered in the context of the application of the Uhrig report to the NCA.

Recommendation 6: That, in collaboration with the Territory Government, the Federal Government initiate an independent and comprehensive review of the National Capital Plan on the basis of the implementation of the recommendations of this report and the need for a more integrated approach by both planning bodies.

Recommendation 7:

That Section 10 (2b) of the Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management) Act 1988 (Cth) be amended to remove planning of arterial road systems from the National Capital Plan and that responsibility for the planning of arterial roads be transferred to the Territory.

Recommendation 8:

That the National Capital Plan be amended so that Designated Area status is uplifted from all Territory land with the exception of the Deakin/Forrest residential area, the Inner Hills and the main avenues and approach routes; and that in assuming planning responsibility for the areas to be uplifted, the Territory Government uphold the principles articulated in the National Capital Plan.

Recommendation 9:

That the National Capital Plan be amended to incorporate a set of agreed planning principles for areas of Territory Land subject to special requirements, and that:

  • these principles to be developed jointly by the Commonwealth and Territory planning authorities;
  • the Territory assume planning responsibility for these areas; and
  • the Territory act in accordance with these agreed principles.

Recommendations 6, 7, 8 and 9:

Disagree.

The government considers that it is appropriate to maintain the Australian Government’s powers in relation to the planning and development of Canberra and the Territory in accordance with their national significance.

Recommendation 10:

That, for all sites fronting State Circle between Hobart and Adelaide Avenue (Blocks 1-8 Section 6 Forrest and Blocks 5-9 Section 3 Deakin):

  • building height be no more than two storeys and no point more than 8 metres above the natural ground level immediately below (regardless of whether the blocks are amalgamated or not); and
  • plot ratio for residential development of existing blocks should remain at 0.4, and in the case of amalgamated blocks be up to a maximum of 0.8.

Disagree.

This matter has been the subject of intensive consultation and protracted debate since 2000, including detailed consideration by the Committee in its October 2002 report Striking the Right Balance: Draft Amendment 39, National Capital Plan. The government’s response to that report, tabled in Parliament on 16 June 2003, agreed that land in the Deakin/Forrest area should continue to be used for residential purposes and that the area between State Circle and National Circuit should retain Designated Area status. The government’s response also agreed in principle that development along State Circle between Hobart and Adelaide Avenues should occur in a manner that ensures the design and landscape outcome is appropriate to the setting of Parliament and reflects the role of State Circle as a Main Avenue.

Following the release of the report in July 2004 the NCA conducted a further workshop with residents, lessees and prospective developers to discuss the controls that should apply to properties fronting State Circle. Consensus was not reached at the workshop and further consultative processes were conducted during August 2004. Again, no agreement was able to be reached with residents/lessees.

It is not always possible to accommodate the views and preferences of all interested and affected parties in planning and development processes.

The government considers that the design and siting requirements in the February 2004 Draft Amendment 39 have been prepared to achieve balanced, quality urban outcomes and provide appropriate protection to the amenity of residents. These requirements include permission for three storey multi-unit developments on blocks fronting State Circle under certain conditions.

Recommendation 11:

That the Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management) Act 1988 (Cth) be amended to require public consultation by the National Capital Authority in relation to works proposals in Designated Areas.

Noted, pending further consideration.

It is appropriate that Recommendation 11 is considered in the context of the application of the Uhrig report to the NCA.


GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO REPORT 57 OF THE JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE ON TREATIES

The Australian Government would like to thank the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) for their consideration of the amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, Convention and the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code in hearings and in its Report 57.

The Australian Government responds as follows to the two recommendations in the Report:

Recommendation 1

The Committee recommends that a review of the Maritime Transport Security Act 2003 be conducted 12 months after its implementation, so that any operational concerns with regard to the Act or its regulations can be raised by interested parties, with a view to improving the legislative provisions (paragraphs 4.7 and 4.8 refer).

On 21 March 2004 the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, the Hon John Anderson MP, announced that Australia’s maritime security framework would be assessed by the Secretaries’ Committee on National Security (SCNS) as part of the Australian Government’s continuous review of Australia’s security arrangements.

Among others, the purpose of the assessment is to identify gaps in the legislative framework established by the Maritime Transport Security Act 2003 (the MTSA) and its Regulations and prioritise measures to fill these gaps. The assessment includes consultation with key industry stakeholders.

The Australian Government believes that this process gives industry a significant opportunity to raise any operational concerns with regard the MTSA or its regulations with senior government officials. The context of the maritime assessment lends itself to discussions regarding amendments to the legislative framework and identification of further policy development work to be undertaken by the Australian Government in consultation with industry.

Given the current assessment process, the Australian Government does not consider it necessary to instigate a review of the MTSA 12 months after its implementation.

Recommendation 2

The Committee recommends that a briefing be provided to it by representatives of the Department of Transport and Regional Services after 1 July 2004 on the possible effects to the Australian maritime industry, including a status report on the amendments to the SOLAS Convention and the ISPS Code (paragraphs 4.9 to 4.12 refer).

The Australian Government agrees that the Department of Transport and Regional Services brief the Committee after 1 July 2004 on how the Australian maritime industry is adapting to the maritime security regime.