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Wednesday, 17 November 2010
Page: 1527

Senator ADAMS (6:32 PM) —On behalf of Senator Coonan, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills, I present the ninth report of 2010 and Alert Digest No. 9 of 2010.

Ordered that the report be printed.

Senator ADAMS —I move:

That the Senate take note of the report.

I seek leave to incorporate a tabling statement in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The statement read as follows—

In tabling the Committee’s Alert Digest No. 9 of 2010 and its Ninth Report of 2010 I draw the Senate’s attention to the Committee’s comments on:

  • the Federal Financial Relations Amendment (National Health and Hospitals Network) Bill 2010; and
  • the Radiocommunications Amendment Bill 2010.

The Federal Financial Relations Bill seeks to give effect to reforms to the financing of health and hospital services set out in the National Health and Hospitals Agreement endorsed by the States (except WA) on 20 April 2010. 

Proposed section 15A establishes the NHHN Fund in the form of a standing appropriation to facilitate payment arrangements with the States. No justification for this approach is provided in the explanatory memorandum, though it is noted that the amounts to be credited will be based on an intergovernmental agreement.

The Committee is concerned that the proposed arrangement does not ensure sufficient parliamentary scrutiny and intends to seek the Minister’s advice as to whether funding for the proposal can be subject to the standard annual appropriations process.

The Committee commented on the content of this Bill in Digest No. 7 of 2010 and the Committee has since identified an error in its commentary. Inadvertently two items were treated as falling within an exemption under table item 41 of section 44 of the Legislative Instruments Act 2003, when in fact this is the case only for one of them. I draw the Senate’s attention to new text the Committee has issued in relation to both of these items at pages 11 and 12 of Alert Digest No. 9.

In relation to its Ninth Report, the Committee acknowledges Ministers for the number of timely and comprehensive replies it has received to issues raised in earlier alert digests. This greatly assists the work of the Scrutiny Committee and improves the quality of bills brought before us for consideration.

Despite the very helpful information provided to the Committee, I draw the Senate’s attention to continuing concerns about provisions in the Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2010 and the Sex and Age Discrimination Legislation Amendment Bill 2010 discussed in the report.

I commend Alert Digest No. 9 of 2010 and the Ninth Report of 2010 to the Senate.

Question agreed to.