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Thursday, 23 June 2005
Page: 96


The SPEAKER (3:47 PM) —For the information of honourable members, I present a schedule of government responses outstanding to reports of House of Representatives and joint committees, incorporating reports tabled and details of government responses made in the period between 8 December 2004, the date of the last schedule, and 22 June 2005. Copies of the schedule are being made available to honourable members and it will be incorporated in Hansard.

The report schedule read as follows—

THE SPEAKER’S SCHEDULE OF OUT-STANDING GOVERNMENT RESPONSES TO REPORTS OF HOUSE OF REPRESENT-ATIVES AND JOINT COMMITTEES

(also incorporating reports tabled and details of Government responses made in the period between 8 December 2004, the date of the last schedule, and 22 June 2005)

23 June 2005

THE SPEAKER’S SCHEDULE OF OUT-STANDING GOVERNMENT RESPONSES TO COMMITTEE REPORTS

On 23 June 2005, the Government presented its response to a schedule of outstanding Government responses to parliamentary committee reports tabled in the House of Representatives on 9 December 2004.

It is Government policy to respond to parliamentary committee reports within three months of their presentation. In 1978 the Fraser Government implemented a policy of responding in the House by ministerial statement within six months of the tabling of a committee report. In 1983, the Hawke Government reduced this response time to three months but continued the practice of responding by ministerial statement. The Keating Government generally responded by means of a letter to a committee chair, with the letter being tabled in the House at the earliest opportunity. In 1996, the Howard Government affirmed the commitment to respond to relevant parliamentary committee reports within three months of their presentation. The Government also undertook to clear, as soon as possible, the backlog of reports arising from previous Parliaments.

The attached schedule lists committee reports tabled and government responses to House and joint committee reports made since the last schedule was presented on 9 December 2004. It also lists reports for which the House has received no government response. A schedule of outstanding responses will continue to be presented at approximately six monthly intervals, generally in the last sitting weeks of the winter and spring sittings.

The schedule does not include advisory reports on bills introduced into the House of Representatives unless the reports make recommendations which are wider than the provisions of the bills and which could be the subject of a government response. The Government’s response to these reports is apparent in the resumption of consideration of the relevant legislation by the House. Also not included are reports from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, the House of Representatives Committee of Members’ Interests, the Committee of Privileges, the Publications Committee and the Selection Committee. Government responses to reports of the Public Works Committee are normally reflected in motions for the approval of works after the relevant report has been presented and considered. Reports from other committees which do not include recommendations are only included when first tabled.

Reports of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit primarily make administrative recommendations but may make policy recommendations. A government response is required in respect of such policy recommendations made by the committee. However, responses to administrative recommendations are made in the form of an Executive Minute provided to, and subsequently tabled by, the committee. Agencies responding to administrative recommendations are required to provide an Executive Minute within 6 months of tabling a report. The committee monitors the provision of such responses. The schedule only includes reports with policy recommendations.

23 June 2005

Description of Report

Date Tabled or Published1

Date of Government Response2

Responded in Period

Specified3

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs (House, Standing)

Unlocking the future: The report of the Inquiry into the Reeves Review of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976

30-08-99

No response to date4

No

Many ways forward: Report of the inquiry into capacity building and service delivery in indigenous communities

21-06-04

No response to date5

No

Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (House, Standing)

Inquiry into future water supplies for Australia’s rural industries and communities - Interim Report

05-05-04

No response to date6

No

Getting water right(s) - The future of rural Australia

21-06-04

No response to date7

No

ASIO, ASIS and DSD (Joint, Statutory)

Private review of agency security arrangements

13-10-03

No response to date8

No

Review of the listing of six terrorist organisations

07-03-05

No response to date

No

Review of the administration and expenditure for ASIO, ASIS and DSD

14-03-05

No response to date

No

Review of the listing of Tanzim Qa’idat al-jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn (the Zarqawi network) as a terrorist organisation

25-05-05

No response required

Annual report of Committee Activities 2004-2005

30-05-05

No response required

Australian Crime Commission (Joint, Statutory)

Cybercrime

24-03-04

No response to date9

No

Inquiry into the trafficking of women for sexual servitude

24-06-04

No response to date10

No

Examination of the annual report for 2003-04 of the National Crime Authority and the Australian Crime Commission

24-06-04

No response required

Report on the examination of the annual report for 2003-2004 of the Australian Crime Commission

22-06-05

Time has not expired

Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (House, Standing)

Connecting Australia! Wireless broadband

11-11-02

No response to date11

No

From reel to unreal: future opportunities for Australia’s film, animation, special effects and electronic games industries

21-06-04

No response to date12

No

Corporations and Securities (Joint, Statutory)

Report on aspects of the regulation of proprietary companies

08-03-01

No response to date13

No

Corporations and Financial Services (Joint, Statutory)

Report on the regulations and ASIC policy statements made under the Financial Services Reform Act 2001

23-10-02

No response to date14

No

Inquiry into the review of the Managed Investments Act 1998

12-12-02

No response to date15

No

Inquiry into Regulation 7.1.29 in Corporations Amendment Regulations 2003 (No.3), Statutory Rules 2003 No.85

26-06-03

No response to date16

No

Money matters in the bush-Inquiry into the level of banking & financial services in rural, regional & remote areas of Australia

15-01-04

No response to date17

No

Report on the ATM fee structure

15-01-04

No response to date18

No

Corporations amendment regulations 2003

24-03-04

No response to date14

No

Corporations Amendment Regulations 7.1.29A, 7.1.35A and 7.1.40(h)

02-06-04

No response to date16

No

CLERP (Audit Reform and Corporate Disclosure) Bill 2003-Part 1: Enforcement, executive remuneration, continuous disclosure, shareholder participation and related matters

04-06-04

10-03-05

No

CLERP (Audit Reform and Corporate Disclosure) Bill 2003-Part 2: Financial reporting and audit reform

15-06-04

10-03-05

No

Corporate insolvency laws - A stocktake

30-06-04

No response to date19

No

Australian Accounting Standards tabled in compliance with the Corporations Act 2001 on 30 August and 16 November 2004

10-02-05

No response to date

No

Statutory oversight of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission

12-05-05

Time has not expired

Exposure draft of the Corporations Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2005

16-06-05

Time has not expired

Economics, Finance and Public Administration (House, Standing)

Numbers on the run: Review of the ANAO Report no. 37 1998-1999 on the management of Tax File Numbers

28-08-00

No response to date20

No

Rates and Taxes: A fair share for responsible local government

24-11-03

22-06-05

No

Review of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission annual report 2003

21-06-04

No response to date21

No

Review of the Reserve Bank of Australia Annual Report 2003

12-08-04

10-05-05

No

Review of the Reserve Bank of Australia Annual Report 2004 (first report)

07-04-05

Time has not expired

Education and Training (House, Standing)

Learning to work: Report on the inquiry into vocational education in schools

29-03-04

No response to date22

No

Employment and Workplace Relations and Workforce Participation (House, Standing)

Working for Australia’s future: increasing participation in the work force

14-03-05

No response to date

No

Environment and Heritage (House, Standing)

Public good conservation: Our challenge for the 21st century

27-09-01

No response to date23

No

Employment in the environment sector: Methods, measurements and messages

01-12-03

No response to date24

No

Family and Community Affairs (House, Standing)

Road to recovery: Report on the inquiry into substance abuse in Australian communities

08-09-03

No response to date25

No

Every picture tells a story: Report on the inquiry into child custody arrangements in the event of family separation

29-12-03

No response to date26

No

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (Joint, Standing)

Near Neighbours - Good Neighbours: An inquiry into Australia’s Relationship with Indonesia

31-05-04

No response to date27

No

Report of the Parliamentary delegation to the Gulf States

21-06-04

No response to date

No

Inquiry into Australia’s Maritime Strategy

21-06-04

No response to date17

No

Inquiry into human rights and good governance education in the Asia Pacific region

24-06-04

No response to date28

No

Australia’s engagement with the World Trade Organisation

30-06-04

No response to date29

No

Review of the Defence Annual report 2002-2003

11-08-04

16-06-05

No

Expanding Australia’s trade and investment relations with the Gulf States

07-03-05

No response to date

No

Health and Ageing (House, Standing)

Future Ageing: Report on a draft report of the 40th Parliament: Inquiry into long term strategies to address the ageing of the Australian population over the next 40 years

07-03-05

No response required

Industry and Resources (House, Standing)

Exploring: Australia’s future impediments to increasing investment in minerals and petroleum exploration in Australia

15-09-03

No response to date30

No

Industry, Science and Resources (House, Standing)

Getting a better return: Inquiry into increasing the value added to Australian raw materials second report

24-09-01

No response to date17

No

Legal and Constitutional Affairs (House, Standing)

The third paragraph of section 53 of the Constitution

30-11-95

No response to date31

No

Modern-day usage of averments in customs prosecutions

31-05-04

No response to date32

No

Bankruptcy Legislation Amendment (Anti-avoidance and other measures Bill 2004)

23-07-04

No response to date33

No

Inquiry into crime in the community: victims, offenders and fear of crime

11-08-04

No response to date34

No

Migration (Joint, Standing)

To make a contribution: review of skilled migration

29-03-04

No response to date35

No

Report of the inspections of Baxter immigration detention facility and Port August residential housing project, April 2005

22-06-05

Time has not expired

National Capital and External Territories (Joint, Standing)

In the pink or in the red? Health services on Norfolk Island

06-07-01

No response to date

No

Norfolk Island electoral matters

26-08-02

No response to date36

No

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Inquiry into Governance on Norfolk Island

03-12-03

No response to date37

No

Norfolk Island - Review of the Annual Reports of the Department of Transport and Regional Services and the Department of the Environment and Heritage (Australia’s external territories)

02-07-04

No response to date37

No

A national capital, a place to live: Inquiry into the Role of the National Capital Authority

02-07-04

26-05-05

No

Indian Ocean Territories - Review of the Annual Reports of the Department of Transport and Regional Services and the Department of the Environment and Heritage (Australia’s external territories)

31-08-04

No response to date38

No

Difficult Choices: Inquiry into the role of the National Capital Authority in determining the extent of redevelopment of the Pierces Creek Settlement in the ACT

31-08-04

No response to date37

No

Native Title and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land Fund (Joint, Statutory)

Nineteenth Report: Second interim report for the s.206(d) Inquiry - Indigenous Land Use Agreements

26-09-01

No response to date39

No

The effectiveness of the National Native Title Tribunal

04-12-03

No response to date39

No

Examination of Annual Reports 2002-2003

24-06-04

No response required

Native Title and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land Account (Joint, Statutory)

Examination of Annual Reports 2003-2004

20-06-05

Time has not expired

Procedure(House, Standing)

Balancing tradition and progress: Procedures for the opening of Parliament

27-08-01

No response to date40

No

House Estimates: consideration of the annual estimates by the House of Representatives

13-10-03

No response to date37

No

Arrangements for second reading speeches

01-12-03

No response to date41

No

Renaming the Main Committee: Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Main Committee

03-06-04

09-12-04

No

Arrangements for joint meetings with the Senate

21-06-04

09-12-04

No

Media coverage of House proceedings including the Chamber, Main committee and committees

09-08-04

No response required

The anticipation rule

14-03-05

17-03-0542

Yes

Public Accounts and Audit (Joint, Statutory)

Corporate governance and accountability arrangements for Commonwealth government business enterprises, December 1999 (Report No. 372)

16-02-00

No response to date43

No

Review of Independent Auditing by Registered Company Auditors (Report No. 391)

18-09-02

10-03-05

No

Annual Report 2003-2004 (Report No. 401)

11-08-04

No response required

.

Access of indigenous Australians to legal services (Report No. 403)

22-06-05

Time has not expired

.

Recent Australian Bushfires (House, Select)

A nation charred: Inquiry into the recent Australian bushfires

05-11-03

No response to date37

No

Science and Innovation (House, Standing)

Science overcoming salinity: Coordinating and extending the science to address the nation’s salinity problem

21-06-04

No response to date44

No

Transport and Regional Services (House, Standing)

Moving on intelligent transport systems

09-12-02

09-02-05

No

Regional aviation and island transport services: Making ends meet

01-12-03

No response to date45

No

National road safety - Eyes on the road ahead

21-06-04

No response to date46

No

Ship salvage

21-06-04

No response to date47

No

Train illumination

24-06-04

No response to date46

No

Treaties (Joint, Standing)

Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1974 and the International Ship and Port Facility (ISPS) Security Code (57th Report)

04-12-03

16-06-05

No

The Australia - United States Free Trade Agreement (61st Report)

23-06-04

No response to date48

No

Treaties tabled on 7 December 2004 (previously tabled in May and June 2004)(63rd Report)

14-12-04

No response to date

No

Treaties tabled on 7 December 2004 (2) (64th Report)

10-05-05

No response required

Treaties tabled on 7 December 2004 (3) and 8 February 2005 (65th Report)

20-06-05

Time has not expired

 

These notes reflect the response circulated by the Leader of the House on 9 December 2004 entitled “Government Responses to Parliamentary Committee reports. Response to the schedule tabled by the Speaker of the House of Representatives on 23 June 2005”.

   1      The date of tabling is the date the report was presented to the House of Representatives. In the case of joint committees, the date shown is the date of first presentation to either the House or the Senate. Reports published when the House (or Houses) are not sitting are tabled at a later date.

   2      If the source for the date is not the Votes and Proceedings of the House of Representatives or the Journals of the Senate, the source is shown in an endnote.

   3      The time specified is three months from the date of tabling.

   4      The government expects to consider broader reforms to the Act including land tenure proposals and to introduce amendments to the Act into the Parliament.

   5      The government response to the report is well advanced with input from relevant agencies being received.

   6      Outstanding issues arising from the interim report will be covered in the response to the final report.

   7      A draft is in progress. A response will be tabled in due course.

   8      Tabling of the response is expected to occur shortly.

   9      The response is currently being considered by the government and is expected to be tabled in the near future. Due to the scope of Committee’s recommendations, extensive consultation across government departments and agencies was required. This process, and the Federal Election in October 2004, delayed government consideration of the response.

   10    The response has required significant consultation between Australian government agencies. That process was interrupted by the Federal Election and associated caretaker period. It is expected that the response will be tabled in the near future.

   11    Since the release of the report the government has introduced a range of measures that have facilitated the use of wireless technologies to deliver broadband services. These measures include reductions in carrier licence fees, improved information for wireless operators and the launch of the Higher Bandwidth Incentive Scheme (HiBIS). Under HiBIS wireless providers are able to compete with other providers for over $100 mill in incentives to improve access to broadband services in regional areas.

   Given these developments and that in 2005 the government intends to introduce legislative amendments to the Radiocommunications Act 1992 a response to the Productivity Commission Radiocommunications Inquiry and the Radiocommunications Review, the government does not plan to respond further to the report.

   12    The government is continuing to prepare a response to the report, which concerns a broad range of issues.

   13    The government is considering its response in light of the adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards and work of the TransTasman Accounting Standards Advisory Group.

   14    The government has responded in part to this report through changes to the Corporations Regulations and public proposals to make further refinements to the regulation of financial services. A combined response to this report and other reports by the Committee on certain financial services regulations taking into account this ongoing policy development will be tabled in due course.

   15    The government is considering the recommendations in the context of recent corporate governance law reform and a response will be tabled in due course.

   16    The government has responded in part to this report through changes to the Corporations Regulations. A combined response to this report and other reports by the Committee on certain financial services regulations taking into account these policy responses will be tabled in due course.

   17    The response is being finalised and is to be tabled as soon as possible.

   18    The response is to be combined with that for ‘Money Matters in the Bush’ and will be tabled as soon as possible.

   19    On 22 March 2005, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, the Hon Chris Pearce MP, announced that the government would address the recommendations of the report in the context of developing an integrated set of proposals to improve the operation of Australia’s insolvency laws.

   The set of proposals will also include responses to issues raised by the James Hardie Special Commission of Inquiry and recent reports of the Corporations and Markets Advisory Committee in its reports on voluntary administration, corporate groups and the rehabilitation of large and complex enterprises.

   The government expects to release proposals for consultation with stakeholders by the end of 2005.

   20    The response is being updated and expected to be tabled in due course.

   21    The government is giving consideration to the recommendations in this report. Since its release, there have been a number of developments in the policy areas relating to the recommendations, including the announcement by the Treasurer that the Australian government will amend the Trade Practices Act 1974 to introduce criminal penalties for serious cartel conduct. The response that takes into account these recent developments will be provided in due course.

   22    The response will be tabled as soon as possible.

   23    A response has been drafted and will tabled in due course.

   24    A response is being finalised and is expected to be tabled shortly.

   25    A draft response is currently being considered.

   26    The Prime Minister made a statement in-principle in July 2004 responding to the report and included an allocation of $397 million over four years in the 2005-06 Budget to support its response. The formal response is expected to be tabled in the near future.

   27    All relevant portfolios have now updated their input and a consolidated response will be finalised as soon as possible.

   28    A response to the report’s recommendations have been developed and is currently being cleared with portfolios affected by the recommendations.

   29    The response is being prepared and will be finalised as soon as possible.

   30    The issues raised in the report coincided with those raised in the development of the Minerals Exploration Action Agenda (MEAA). The MEAA has been incorporated into the government’s Resources Exploration Strategy, which was released on 2 July 2004, and constitutes the government’s response to this report. The Chair of the Committee was advised of this in writing on 23 February 2005 by the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources. The government does not intend responding further to the report’s recommendations.

   31    The government does not propose to respond to this report at this time.

   32    The response is in the final stages of clearance and is expected to be tabled soon.

   33    The response is expected to be tabled shortly.

   34    Preparation of the response is currently underway.

   35    The response has been finalised and will be tabled shortly.

   36    Consultation on the response for this report is underway.

   37    A response is being prepared and will be tabled in due course.

   38    A draft response is with portfolio Ministers for comment.

   39    It is anticipated that the response will be tabled shortly.

   40    The government considers that the current procedures for the opening of the Parliament continue to reflect Australia’s parliamentary traditions and democratic heritage. Accordingly, the government does not propose to seek changes to existing procedures at this time.

   41    The government considers that the existing arrangements provide the opportunity for a significant debate on legislation and that they remain appropriate. Accordingly, the government does not support the recommendations of this report.

   42    The House adopted sessional orders to implement recommendations of committee on 17 March 2005.

   43    The government is considering its outstanding recommendations and a response will be tabled in due course.

   44    The response is being considered by the relevant portfolios and will be tabled in due course.

   45    The government is currently considering its response to this report. It is expected that a final response will be tabled in 2005.

   46    The response is being finalised for tabling.

   47    The response will be tabled following completion of Australian Transport Council processes.

   48    Consultations with relevant portfolios are still proceeding. The response will be tabled as soon as consultations have been completed.


The SPEAKER —A number of members have expressed their concern to me over the nature of recent public discussion on the provision of government responses to committee reports and I would like to take this opportunity to make some observations on parliamentary committees.

Since 1983, successive governments have committed to responding to committee reports in three months. While it appears that governments have found this response time challenging, and there may be many reasons for that, the value of a committee inquiry and the report is not simply determined by whether a report receives a timely government response.

Committee inquiries serve a key purpose in allowing the community to participate directly in the parliamentary process, commonly referred to around this place as ‘taking parliament to the people’. The inquiries help to inform members of the public about issues under consideration in the parliament and to directly inform parliamentarians of public and community attitudes.

At the same time, they pull together a wide range of opinion that becomes an ongoing resource for parliamentarians and the community.

From my experience as a committee chair I also note that governments often embrace a position arising from a committee inquiry or report before providing a formal response and many have influenced government policy and legislation but have not yet received a formal government response.

It should also be noted that some committee reports do not require government responses. Once again from my own experience, I draw attention to the twice yearly scrutiny of the Reserve Bank where the public hearing is the critical part of the inquiry. It is also the case that many recommendations made in committee reports are aimed at bodies other than the Commonwealth government.

Nevertheless, the formal response of government is a vital part of the inquiry process and it does assist committee members, participants in the inquiry process and other interested people to assess the value of the inquiry.

Many of the points I have made in this context answer part of the question addressed to me yesterday by the member for Banks. However, in response to the specific question put to me by the member for Banks, there is no basis of authority for me to write to ministers concerning responses to committee reports that have not been made after three months.

My role as the Speaker is to monitor the provision of government responses to committee reports and inform the House of outstanding responses. The schedule I have just presented fulfils this function. If this role is to be expanded it would be a matter for the Procedure Committee to consider and for the House to determine.

Finally, I would like to make the point that it is within the authority of individual committees to followup with relevant ministers and departments with regard to their reports.