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Wednesday, 20 March 2013
Page: 2706

Mr CREAN (HothamMinister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government and Minister for the Arts) (09:16): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

This is a companion bill to the Australia Council Bill 2013, which I have just introduced. The Australia Council (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2013 contains consequential amendments and transitional arrangements related to the proposed reform of the Australia Council in line with the Australian Government response to the 2012 Review of the Australia Council.

The key elements of the bill provide for the continued operation of the Council during its transition to a new operating environment—as per its proposed new enabling legislation, the Australia Council Bill 2013. This is expected to take effect from 1 July 2013. Significantly, this bill provides for the repeal of the Australia Council Act 1975, an act which, upon passage nearly 40 years ago, has only undergone minor amendment.

In the main, this bill provides for business continuity for the Council, including its staff. Accordingly, provisions are included which allow for the appointments of the current chair and deputy chair to be carried over into the new operating environment. As I highlighted when I introduced the main bill, ensuring the continuity of key governance roles during the organisation’s transition to a new operating environment will be important in the context of the implementation of the broader reform agenda.

For similar reasons, transitional provisions will also apply to the office of CEO. This will also allow time for the incoming board to be appointed and convened to consider and appoint a longer term CEO. As per the new enabling legislation, the longer term CEO will be appointed by the board after consultation with the responsible minister.

The bill also provides for continuity of the current employees of the Council on their existing employment terms and conditions.

Existing assets and liabilities will be assets and liabilities of the continued Council. To ensure the Council continues to remain accountable for its expenditure and its operations, this bill also spells out transitional reporting requirements.

As I mentioned when introducing the Australia Council Bill 2013, we are presented with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform the Australia Council. The reforms will revitalise the Council’s role in supporting Australian arts practice that is recognised nationally and internationally as excellent in its field.

Together with the Australia Council Bill 2013, this bill will bring the Australia Council in line with other modern statutory authorities and into the 21st century. It will ensure that the transition to its new operational arrangements is seamless.

I commend this bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.