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Monday, 11 November 2002
Page: 6023


Senator McLucas asked the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, upon notice, on 6 September 2002:

(1) (a) Who are the members of the committees for each of the eight sustainable regions; and (b) when were they appointed.

(2) What criteria were used to select the committee members.

(3) What selection process was undertaken in choosing the committee members.

(4) What skills, attributes and experience does each individual committee member bring to these positions.

(5) What rules apply to the operations of each committee including: (a) how projects are identified; (b) how projects are chosen for funding; (c) how projects are announced; (d) how projects are monitored; (e) how projects are evaluated; (f) how the success of a project will be measured; (g) the protocols that apply to committee meetings; (h) how many members of each committee must be in attendance at meetings involving funding allocation decisions; and (i) the protocols are in place for replacement of committee members.

(6) For each of the eight regions, when will selection of projects for funding in 2002-2003 financial year be undertaken.

(7) When will projects for the 2002-2003 financial year be announced.

(8) Can a copy of the standard contract for these projects be provided.

(9) What organisations are eligible to apply for SRP funding.


Senator Ian Macdonald (Minister for Forestry and Conservation) —The Minister for Transport and Regional Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) (a) The members of the eight Sustainable Region Advisory Committees (SRACs) and

(b) their date of appointment are listed below:

Far North East New South Wales

SRAC appointed - 5 October 2001

Chair: Mr Geoff Provest.

Members: Mr Greg Redmond, Ms Robin Amos, Mr Chris Condon, Ms Lexie Hurford, and Councillor Ernie Bennett.

Campbelltown-Camden, New South Wales

SRAC appointed - 5 October 2001

Mrs Julie O'Keefe appointed - 22 August 2002

Chair: Mr Bruce Hanrahan.

Members: Mr Ken Tagg, Councillor Geoff Corrigan and Mrs Julie O'Keefe (note Councillor Corrigan resigned from the Advisory Committee on 15 July 2002 and was replaced by Mrs O'Keefe).

Gippsland, Victoria

SRAC appointed - 5 October 2001

Chair: Mr John Hutchinson.

Members: Ms Robyn Cooney and Dr Robert Haldane.

Atherton Tablelands, Queensland

SRAC appointed - 10 December 2001

Chair: Mr Peter McDade.

Members: Councillor Mary Lyle, Councillor Anne Portess, Councillor Mick Borzi, Councillor Jim Chapman, and Professor Bob Beeton.

Kimberley, Western Australia

Date committee appointed - 21 December 2001

Mr Ian Trust appointed - 3 June 2002

Chair: Ms Cori Fong.

Members: Councillor Josie Farrer, Councillor Elsia Archer, Councillor Barbara Johnson, Councillor Kevin Fong, Mr Chris Kloss, Mr Ron Johnston, Mr Ian Trust, and Mr Jeff Gooding.

North West & West Coast Tasmania

SRAC appointed - 18 February 2002

Chair: Mr Roger Jaensch.

Members: Mr Russell Paterson, Mr Bob Wilson, Ms Catherine Fernon, Ms Megan Cavanagh-Russell, Mr David Sales, Mr Ross Hine, Ms Judith Liauw, Mrs Mary Binks, and Mr David Reed.

Playford/Salisbury, South Australia

Date committee appointed - 27 March 2002

Chair: Mr Peter Smith.

Members: Mr Tim Jackson, Mr Stephen Hains, Mr Kym Good, Mr Gerry Davies, and Mr Ron Watts.

Wide Bay Burnett, Queensland

SRAC appointed - 4 April 2002

Chair: Ms Diana Collins.

Members: Mr Robin Grundon, Ms Dot Hamilton, Councillor Ted Sorensen, Mr John Metelli, Mr Stephen Dixon, Mr Howard Leisemann, and Councillor Bill Trevor.

(2) Social, business, industry, environmental and cultural leaders and achievers in each sustainable region were selected for SRAC membership based on their knowledge and expertise.

(3) Prospective names were sought from the region based on (2) above and then sent to me for consideration.

(4) Each committee member was selected for their expertise within the region and the knowledge that they could bring to the role. Members were drawn from local government, local businesses, Area Consultative Committees, Indigenous communities and community organisations. All members are prominent in their region and were selected based on their past effective community involvement.

(5) (a) Projects are identified through an Expression of Interest (EoI) phase (which includes placing advertisements in local newspapers) and those that best meet the programme assessment criteria and the region's identified priorities are invited to submit a full application. (b) Each application is rigorously assessed by the SRAC and the Department of Transport and Regional Services against project assessment criteria with proponents needing to demonstrate the project will address one or more of the region's identified priorities. I make the final decision on whether a project receives funding. (c) Successful projects are announced in a variety of ways including launches, media releases and posting on web sites. (d) The Department of Transport and Regional Services and the Executive Officer in each region monitor projects and regularly report back to the SRAC on progress. (e and f) Projects are evaluated and their success measured using the reporting mechanisms in the funding agreement and the overall objectives of the programme. (g) The SRACs are governed by operating protocols published in the SRP guidelines and based on Australian National Audit Office best practice. These are listed below. (h) A quorum is required (see Operating Protocols). (i) Where a committee member resigns and needs to be replaced this is done in accordance with the criteria and processes outlined in (2) and (3) above.

OPERATING AND GOVERNANCE ARRANGEMENTS FOR SUSTAINABLE REGIONS ADVISORY COMMITTEES

TERMS OF REFERENCE

SUSTAINABLE REGIONS ADVISORY COMMITTEES

The Sustainable Regions Advisory Committee shall advise the Minister for Transport and Regional Services on matters relating to the implementation and management of the Sustainable Regions Programme and its strategic direction for the region. This will include:

· In consultation with the community, determining the priorities of the region;

· Managing an EoI exercise;

· Providing direction to the Executive Officer;

· Assessing grant applications; and

· Making recommendations to the Minister on project funding.

The Advisory Committee shall be guided by the objectives and priorities of the Sustainable Regions Programme as it relates to the region.

· In undertaking the above, the Advisory Committee will; consider and provide advice on proposals, taking into account agreed selection criteria for projects, the programme guidelines and any departmental advice.

· Review and advise on programme documentation - such as guidelines and application forms - as required;

· Review and advise on programme direction; and

· Consider the Commonwealth's accountability requirements. The Commonwealth follows the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) accountability requirements. The ANAO Guidelines for the Administration of Grants are available from the ANAO Website at http://www.anao.gov.au/, under `Publications'.

Role of Chairs

Sustainable Regions Advisory Committees

The duties of the Chair are:

1. Lead the SRAC in the process of selecting and recommending projects for funding under the Sustainable Regions Programme, in accordance with the “Terms Of Reference - Sustainable Regions Advisory Committees” and the “Operating Protocols And Code Of Conduct - Sustainable Regions Advisory Committees”.

2. Act as spokesperson for the SRAC to the Minister, the public and the media.

3. Participate in the selection of an Executive Officer for the Sustainable Region.

4. Provide direction to the Executive Officer in accordance with a workplan agreed by the SRAC and the Department of Transport and Regional Services (DOTARS) and in accordance with the Executive Officer's duties and responsibilities, which are:

· managing the Sustainable Regions Programme delivery in the region;

· provision of high level professional advice to the Advisory Committee to assist it in objectively assessing funding propositions from the community;

· provision of executive support to the Committee, including organising and preparing meetings, planning sessions and correspondence;

· initiating and managing partnership arrangements and coordinating activity between the Committee and government agencies, local communities and other organisations;

· initiating proposals with local community groups and assisting in the development and preparation of proposals;

· advising commercial entities and other regional stakeholders on the development of proposals to go before the Committee; and

· undertaking other duties as directed, including acting on behalf of the Committee.

5. Approve, in consultation with DOTARS, expenditure by the Executive Officer that is not included in a budget agreed by the SRAC and DOTARS.

OPERATING PROTOCOLS AND CODE OF CONDUCT

SUSTAINABLE REGIONS ADVISORY COMMITTEES

OPERATING PROTOCOLS

A majority of members shall form a quorum.

The Federal Department of Transport and Regional Services is to be an observer at meetings of the committee. A formal record/minutes must be taken and endorsed at the following meeting.

The committee will always try to reach a consensus but where a vote is taken at a meeting the outcome will be determined by the majority of members present. The majority and minority views will be conveyed to the Minister by the Department.

The Minister has approved funding for Advisory Committees to appoint an Executive Officer initially for a period of one year. The Executive Officer will assist the Chair and the Committee by:

· advising the Committee to assist in objectively analysing and assessing funding applications;

· providing administrative assistance and secretariat support to the Committee;

· liaising, negotiating and coordinating activity between the Committee and government departments and agencies, local communities, and other organisations;

· promoting the Sustainable Regions Programme and assisting local community groups to identify, develop and prepare proposals; and

· undertaking other duties at the direction of the Chair, acting on behalf of the Committee.

Any official communication with the media should be sanctioned by the Chairman and approved by the Minister's Office.

CODE OF CONDUCT

1. Principles

Members of the Committee must:

1.1 act with impartiality and integrity, conscientiousness and loyalty to the public interest;

1.2 ensure that the work of the Committee is not compromised or affected by any direct or indirect pecuniary or non-pecuniary interest;

1.3 ensure wherever possible that there is no public perception that the committee's work may be so compromised or affected;

1.4 act as an independent adviser rather than an advocate for any stakeholder organisation;

1.5 ensure the confidentiality of information dealt with by the Committee;

1.6 act in good faith for proper purposes without exceeding their powers; and

1.7 be frank and honest in their official dealings with each other.

2. Confidentiality

2.1 With the exception of material referred to in paragraph 2.2, all information, whether written or not, dealt with by the Committee shall be treated as confidential unless agreed otherwise by a majority of the Committee.

2.2 Any member tabling a document may identify it as not being of a confidential nature, and seek the Committee's agreement to that status. However, Committee members should not use such information for purposes unrelated to the Committee's functions. The distribution of such information outside the membership of the Committee may be limited or restricted by agreement of the Committee.

2.3 Information available to members must not be used to obtain any advantage whether direct or indirect, for themselves or for any other person or body.

2.4 Confidential information available to members must be used only in ways which are consistent with the obligations of members to act impartially, with integrity and in the public interest.

2.5 Where confidential information is provided to a Committee member, care must be taken to ensure that the information is kept in secure storage, and that numbers of copies are kept to the minimum necessary. If such information is to be disposed of by a Committee member, it must be destroyed.

2.6 Members should avoid investments or business activities in relation to which they might reasonably be perceived to have access to confidential information which might give them an unfair or improper advantage over other persons.

3. Improper or undue influence

Committee members must take care not to use their position on the Committee to influence any other member of the Committee, or an applicant or potential applicant for assistance under the Sustainable Regions programme for the purpose of obtaining any advantage for themselves, or any other person or body, whether that advantage is direct or indirect.

4. Conflicts of interest

4.1 For the purpose of this Code of Conduct, conflicts of interest arise when members are influenced, or appear to be influenced, by personal interests in carrying out their duties as members of the Committee.

4.2 Conflicts of interest generally fall into one of two categories : pecuniary and non-pecuniary interests.

Pecuniary interests

4.2.1 Pecuniary interests involve an actual or potential financial gain. A pecuniary interest could be described as an interest that a person has in a matter because of reasonable likelihood or expectation of appreciable financial gain or loss to the person, or another person or body with whom the person is associated.

4.3.3 A person is taken to have a pecuniary interest in a matter if either

· the person's spouse or de facto partner or relative, or business partner or employer of the person, has a pecuniary interest in the matter, or

· the person, or a nominee, partner or employer of the person, is a member of a company or other body that has a pecuniary interest in the matter.

4.2.3 A person is not taken to have a pecuniary interest in a matter referred to in paragraph 4.2.2:

· if the person is unaware of the relevant pecuniary interest of the spouse, de facto partner, relative or company or other body, or just because the person is a member of, or a delegate of a company or other body that has pecuniary interest in the matter, so long as the person has no beneficial interest in any shares of the company or body.

Non-pecuniary interests

4.2.4 Non-pecuniary interests do not have a financial component. A non-pecuniary interest generally involves some form of personal advancement or gain for the individual or for others (for example, friends or relatives) in whom they have a personal interest. For example, it would include assisting with the preparation of an application for a member of an organisation.

4.3 Disclosures to be made by committee members

4.3.1 If:

· a member of the Committee has a pecuniary or non-pecuniary interest in a matter being considered or about to be considered at a meeting of the Committee; and

· the interest appears to raise a conflict with the proper performance of the member's duties in relation to the consideration of the matter;

then the member shall, as soon as possible after the relevant facts have come to the member's knowledge:

(a) disclose the nature of the interest to the Chair at a meeting of the Committee; and

(b) refrain from voting on the matter.

4.4 Action to be taken when interests are declared at committee meetings

4.4.1 Any disclosures of interests and the member's consequent refraining from voting on the matter in hand will be recorded in the minutes and, where a majority of the Committee considers it necessary, the disclosure will be reported to the Minister together with any relevant advice on the matter.

4.4.2 Where a member discloses a pecuniary or non-pecuniary interest relating to a matter under consideration by the Committee that member may, with the agreement of the Committee, contribute to the Committee's discussion on the matter.

5. Use of public resources

5.1 The Department of Transport and Regional Services will ensure that financial, material and human resources are provided so that the Committee is able to perform its functions. All these resources should be used for the work of the Committee only, and be used effectively.

6. Gifts, gratuities, hospitality

6.1 Members must avoid giving any indication that gifts, gratuities or hospitality relating to their membership of the Committee will be accepted, either for themselves or for any other person or body, or that these may influence their advice.

6.2 Members may accept only token gifts and modest hospitality. Token gifts are taken to be those valued at around $20 or less. Hospitality is modest when it is not more than the Committee member would provide in return to that person, people or company.

6.3 If any gift, gratuity or hospitality of other than a token kind is offered, full and prompt disclosure must be made to the Chair, or the full Committee as appropriate.

7. Notification of suspected corrupt conduct

7.1 Any matter that is suspected, on reasonable grounds, to concern corrupt conduct should be reported to the Chair or directly to the Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government.

(6) and (7) The selection and announcement of projects is a continuous process. Each region is at a different stage and applications are considered regularly at SRAC meetings. Each SRAC recommends projects to me for funding.

(8) A copy of the standard contract has been provided to Senator McLucas.

(9) Community groups, the private sector and local government.