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Tuesday, 5 May 1987
Page: 2312


Senator RYAN (Minister for Education)(4.13) —As Senator Powell has pointed out, the reporting procedures that the Opposition seeks to secure by its amendments are not necessary. There are adequate reporting opportunities provided for in the Bill. Two different reporting procedures are available. This reflects the fact that the reports of authorities that elect to report to their portfolio Ministers are not subject to scrutiny by an independent agency, hence the Minister's additional power to issue directions and to demand further reports. The Public Service Board's powers under the Bill were based on its powers under section 22b of the Public Service Act.

The Bill provides for Parliament to be advised concerning equal employment opportunity programs. The mechanisms are somewhat different for authorities which report to the Public Service Board-in the Public Service Board's annual report-and those which elect to report to portfolio Ministers which leads to the tabling of reports in the Parliament. However, in both cases, Parliament will be informed concerning the programs. The amendment would require Ministers to table and take responsibility for reports for which they do not otherwise have responsibility. Given the Public Service Board's role, the arrangement outlined in the Bill-that is, reporting in the Public Service Board's annual report-is the only workable reporting arrangement for authorities that choose to report to the Public Service Board.

Similarly, regarding amendment No. 5 as moved by the Opposition, I would make the comment that the amendment is unnecessary. The existing provision contains a built-in time limit requiring that reports should be lodged with Ministers within three months after the end of the period to which the program report relates. Amendment No. 6 is unnecessary as the Bill provides that the Public Service Board will report to the Parliament concerning the operations of the legislation, to the extent of its involvement. Therefore, reporting responsibilities are adequately covered and the Opposition's amendments are not acceptable.