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Thursday, 18 September 2003
Page: 20552


Mr SLIPPER (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration) (10:08 AM) —in reply—At the outset I would like to thank the member for Curtin and the member for Kingston for their strong support of the Statistics Legislation Amendment Bill 2003, which is an important initiative. As I noted in my second reading speech, the objective of the Statistics Legislation Amendment Bill 2003 is to rectify a number of technical deficiencies in statistics legislation. These deficiencies arose as an unintended consequence of previous amendments to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975. The amendments will ensure that the Statistician has, as was intended under the legislation, the power to engage supplementary staff for irregular collection activities, such as the population census, under the statistics regulations. Amendments to the ABS Act in 1987 have resulted in some doubt as to whether the power under the statistics regulations still exists. The amend-ments will also validate practices of the ABS since the deficiencies arose. The bill will also place beyond doubt that the secrecy provisions of the CSA apply for all previous employees of the ABS, regardless of the date of cessation of employment—again as intended under the legislation.

Finally, the bill makes provision for the Statistician to make arrangements to second persons from other agencies and authorities, both Australian and foreign, to assist in carrying out the functions of the Statistician. The bill ensures that seconded persons cannot exercise any of the powers of compulsion available to the Statistician. The member for Kingston referred quite correctly to the exemplary secrecy record of the ABS, and I thank him for those remarks. The member for Curtin outlined certain relevant matters in relation to the role played by the ABS. This bill has no financial impacts and the amendments do not create any new obligations for business, and on that basis I commend the bill to the chamber.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Ordered that this bill be reported to the House without amendment.