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Wednesday, 3 December 2003
Page: 23549


Mr ENTSCH (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources) (9:29 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Industry Research and Development Amendment Bill 2003 is a bill to amend the Industry Research and Development Act 1986.

The bill clarifies that the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources, not the Industry Research and Development Board, controls, and is accountable for, program finances.

The amendments remove an administrative anomaly and clarify and confirm the financial accountability arrangements for innovation, currently, and into the future.

The amendments remove the board's power to commit and approve the expenditure of Commonwealth funds under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997.

Under the Financial Management and Accountability Act, it is the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Industry Tourism and Resources who is ultimately responsible for the administered funds appropriated to the department, not the IR&D Board.

In practice, the amendments will result in little difference to the existing operating procedures under the various innovation and research and development programs.

Currently, the board delegates its financial functions to officers of the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources but under the existing act retains some responsibility for Commonwealth finances.

By removing the board's financial responsibilities, the bill enables the board to focus on the assessment and prioritisation of applications—where its expertise lies—and not on managing funds.

This bill also clarifies that the board provides advice on innovation programs, such as those related to commercialisation, in addition to providing advice on research and development programs.

As well as enabling the board to concentrate on its core business, the amendments will help safeguard individual board members from any personal liability stemming from their membership of the board.

I present the explanatory memorandum to the bill.

Debate (on motion by Mr Cox) adjourned.