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Monday, 2 December 2002
Page: 6909


Senator MARK BISHOP (10:51 PM) —I move amendment (R3) on sheet 2689 revised (2):

(R3) Clause 19, page 14 (after line 28), at the end of the clause, add:

(3) The NHMRC Licensing Committee must cause a report to be tabled in either House of Parliament on or before:

(a) 30 June of each year;

(b) 31 December of each year; and

(c) any other time required by either House of Parliament;

that must include information about:

(d) the operation of this Act; and

(e) the licences issued under this Act.

Very briefly, for the benefit of the chamber, the accountability of the NHMRC was questioned during the Senate committee's inquiry into this bill, and concerns were raised that information made available regarding the operation of the act might not be adequate for serious or proper parliamentary oversight of the operation of the legislation. Clause 19 of the bill states:

The NHMRC Licensing Committee may at any time cause a report about matters relating to the Committee's functions to be tabled in either House of the Parliament.

This amendment seeks to extend this reporting capacity to an obligation on the committee to report every six months, not merely on its own initiative. This will ensure parliamentary review, an assessment of the research and regular consideration of the operation of the act in the light of up-to-date information before the parliament. The amendment simply requires that the NHMRC Licensing Committee must cause a report to be tabled in either house of parliament on or before 30 June each year, 31 December of each year and at any other time required by either house of parliament.

That report must include information about the operation of this act and the licences issued under this act. It is another reporting requirement. It results in additional information being tabled in either house of parliament. It will be done on a regular basis and it will allow for parliamentary oversight of the activities of the NHMRC Licensing Committee. I understand that there will not be serious opposition to this amendment. Accordingly, I commend it to the chamber.