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Wednesday, 6 February 2013
Page: 320


Mr ROBB (Goldstein) (12:10): I rise to speak on the Financial Framework Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 4) 2012. This bill seeks to amend five acts across three portfolios as part of an ongoing program to ensure the Commonwealth's financial framework remains up to date and consistent across government. This is the 12th financial framework legislation amendment bill since 2004. They are generally noncontroversial and housekeeping in nature, and this bill is no exception. Ten of the previous bills have become law while two previous bills lapsed with the proroguing of the parliament for the 2004 and 2010 elections.

The five main purposes of the amendments include, firstly, amending the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 to substitute references to 'Commonwealth procurement guidelines' with 'guidelines in relation to procurement' to reflect the name change and to create consistent wording with the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997. Secondly, they amend the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 to increase the threshold of the amount the Director of National Parks can enter into a contract, from $250,000 to $1 million, without having to seek ministerial approval. This reflects the increase in costs since the previous increase in 1992. Thirdly, they amend the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 to establish a distinct new special appropriation for making emissions or refunds in relation to important manufacturing levies related to synthetic greenhouse gas management equipment. Currently refunds and remissions are paid under section 28 of the Financial Management Act and the amendment is designed to increase the transparency and workability of the refund mechanism. Fourthly, they amend the Papua New Guinea (Staffing Assistance) Act 1993, which prescribes retirement benefits for former employees of the administration of the territory of Papua New Guinea to provide clear provision for the recovery of retirement benefits deposited inadvertently into an account after the death of a recipient. It also sets new requirements for public reporting by ComSuper and any recoverable death payments that have been made. And, finally, they amend the Public Accounts and Audit Committee Act 1951 to replace the terms 'chairman' and 'vice-chairman' with gender neutral terms 'chair' and 'deputy chair'.

As you can see, the amendments are very much in the housekeeping sense and they are amendments that we support. Things such as increasing the contract for the Director of National Parks from $250,000 to $1 million reflect the reality of increased costs. The issue relating to ozone protection and synthetic greenhouse gas management is a welcome move as it will further improve efficiency, and these people need it. Many of those businesses who are relying on refrigerants have had a horror few months, and they have many more to come, with the impact the carbon tax is having on them—even businesses I know that have been in flood affected areas. An IGA, one of my colleagues reported to me, has an initial cost of $40,000 to re-gas with the refrigerants.

It is $40,000 due to the carbon tax. Given the very onerous and very direct impact on those industries of the cost of gas, anything we can do in that space to improve the profitability and the cost structure for these industries is very important. This is affecting smaller operations right across the country; it is affecting lots of small and medium-sized businesses. The coalition supports the ongoing financial framework housekeeping process which we commenced. We have no objections to this bill.