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Thursday, 25 November 2010
Page: 3878

Mr GRAY (Special Minister of State and Special Minister of State for the Public Service and Integrity) (6:24 PM) —in reply—I thank the member for Goldstein for his contribution to this debate. The Financial Framework Legislation Amendment Bill 2010 is an omnibus bill that would affect 31 acts, involving the amendment of 25 acts and the repeal of six. The bill contains three major themes. The opposition has circulated amendments to the Financial Management and Accountability Act to include ‘economical’ in section 44 of the FMA Act, which sets out the responsibilities of chief executives to promote the proper use of government resources. The government will support the opposition’s proposed amendment.

I will now turn to other aspects of the bill. The first theme is the repeal of 20 redundant special appropriations, including six acts in their entirety. This continues the government’s commitment as part of Operation Sunlight to enhance the transparency and accountability of the Commonwealth’s financial framework and budgetary process.

The second theme is improving the financial governance framework established by the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997, the FMA Act, and the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997, the CAC Act. In particular the bill would allow ministers to delegate their ability to obtain budget estimates and monthly financial statements under the CAC Act to departmental secretaries for Commonwealth authorities and Commonwealth companies. The bill will also give state and territory ministers the ability to request information about operations of interjurisdictional agencies under the FMA Act and interjurisdictional authorities under the CAC Act. The bill would also strengthen the reporting to parliament of the Commonwealth’s involvement in companies by transferring these requirements from the CAC Act to part 5 of the FMA Act, which currently deals with investments by the Commonwealth.

The third theme is clarifying governance arrangements of several specific bodies. In particular the bill would consolidate the Australian Institute of Criminology with the Criminology Research Council into a single agency while at the same time transferring them from the CAC Act to the FMA Act. The bill would also transfer the governance of the Australian Law Reform Commission from the CAC Act to the FMA Act. Further, this bill would bring the governance of the National Transport Commission under the CAC Act, consistent with the government’s policy on governance arrangements as the commission currently operates outside existing frameworks other than for its annual reporting. Finally, the bill would repeal legislation that had established the Office of Evaluation and Audit for Indigenous Programs as this function has been successfully absorbed into the Australian National Audit Office.

Overall, the amendments in the bill reduce red tape through legislative housekeeping, improve the governance arrangements of interjurisdictional bodies and improve the financial and governance arrangements of specific bodies.

Lastly, I would like to take this opportunity to recognise the efforts of those officials who assisted in the preparation of this bill from across the Commonwealth. I commend the bill to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.