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Tuesday, 26 June 2012
Page: 8080


Ms ROXON (GellibrandAttorney-General and Minister for Emergency Management) (20:27): I want to briefly sum up and thank all the members who have spoken on the Financial Framework Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 3) 2012. I also thank members from both sides of the House and the crossbenches for their patience and understanding that this is a bit of an unusual process to be going through, particularly with the speed that is needed, given the decision was only handed down by the High Court on Wednesday and parliament is set to finish this Thursday for a period of time. We did not want any of the programs, particularly the school chaplains program, to be in jeopardy during that time.

I also thank people for acknowledging the over 400 programs and the importance of various of those programs in people's electorates. It is the reason the government wanted to act quickly to make sure that there cannot be any question of the authority upon which we continue to fund those programs. I can put the member for Aston's mind at rest—I hope I have got my seats right: it is Aston?

Mr Tudge: Yes, Aston, in eastern Melbourne.

Ms ROXON: That is right, and eastern Melbourne is a long way from my home. To put his mind at rest, we have very clear advice that this regulatory process that is being used will be sufficient to provide legislative cover. There is longstanding recognition that regulations are a form of legislation. I understand from the response given by the opposition that an amendment will be moved. For the benefit of the House, I might just quickly address that so that when it is put we are able to act promptly. The suggestion is that a six-month sunset clause would, in some way, provide the government with time to carefully go through all of the programs again and look at another legislative option into the future. We have clear advice that this would essentially make this legislation meaningless. The advice is that it means that no contract that extends beyond that six-month period would be able to be entered into. So, as to the very program that most members of the House have spoken in such strong support of, which is the chaplains program, we would not be able to enter into agreements for chaplains—normally three-year agreements negotiated during the last six months of the financial year for those starting in the new educational year. That would not be an effective way for us to deliver certainty to the chaplains, the schools and other community organisations where contracts often go for a much longer period than just the six months that have been identified.

I need to indicate, as I have to the opposition spokesperson, that we will not be supporting that amendment. But I do thank the opposition for their support for this broader bill and for your assistance in having the debate today, and, again, for everybody's patience in dealing with this in a prompt time frame. I commend the bill to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.