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Friday, 26 November 2010
Page: 2410

Senator LUNDY (Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration and Citizenship and Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister) (2:32 PM) —I table a revised explanatory memorandum relating to the bill and move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

The Financial Framework Legislation Amendment Bill 2010 is an omnibus Bill that would, if passed, affect 31 Acts, involving the amendment of 25 Acts and the repeal of 6.

This is the seventh Financial Framework Legislation Amendment Bill (FFLA Bill) since 2004 and is in substantially the same form as the FFLA Bill I introduced on 23 June 2010. These Amendment Bills build on improvements to the Commonwealth’s financial governance framework and have traditionally had broad Parliamentary support.

This Bill contains three major themes, being the repeal of redundant special appropriations, the improvement of the laws underpinning the Commonwealth’s financial governance framework, and updating the financial governance of specific bodies.

On the first theme, the Bill would, if enacted, repeal 20 redundant special appropriations, including 6 Acts in their entirety. This continues the Government’s commitment to regularly review special appropriations, as given in the Government’s response of December 2008 to the report by former Senator Andrew Murray, Operation Sunlight - Overhauling Budgetary Transparency.

Second, the Bill would improve the governance framework established by the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997, known colloquially as the “FMA Act” and the “CAC Act”.

The Bill would allow Ministers to delegate certain functions under the CAC Act to Departmental Secretaries, relating to the oversight of Commonwealth authorities and Commonwealth companies. Introducing such specific delegation powers would strengthen existing arrangements, that currently rely on authorisations by Ministers, for obtaining budget estimates and monthly financial statements.

The Bill would also address the situation of FMA Act agencies, and Commonwealth authorities operating under the CAC Act, that are interjurisdictional in nature, by amending those Acts to empower relevant State and Territory Ministers to request information about their operations. This power would be commensurate with the power currently held by Commonwealth Ministers in this regard, with the details to be set out in regulations. This would enable full consultation to occur between the Commonwealth and relevant States and Territories, before such requirements are put in place, and would also allow the requirements to be calibrated on a case-by-case basis.

The Bill would also strengthen the reporting to Parliament of the Commonwealth’s involvement in companies. Currently the CAC Act obliges responsible Ministers to inform Parliament when the Commonwealth acquires or disposes of an interest in a company. The Bill would relocate this requirement more appropriately to Part 5 of the FMA Act, which currently deals with investments by the Commonwealth.

Third, the Bill would clarify the governance arrangements of several specific bodies. These have been developed after consultation with relevant Ministers, departments and agencies.

In particular, the Bill would consolidate the Australian Institute of Criminology with the Criminology Research Council into a single agency, while at the same time transferring them from the CAC Act to the FMA Act. The Bill would also transfer the governance of the Australian Law Reform Commission from the CAC Act to the FMA Act.

Further, this Bill would bring the governance of the National Transport Commission under the CAC Act, because the Commission currently operates outside existing frameworks, other than for its annual reporting.

This is consistent with the Finance Department’s Governance Arrangements for Australian Government Bodies, the Government’s policy on governance arrangements.

Finally, the Bill would repeal legislation that had established the Office of Evaluation and Audit for Indigenous Programs, in recognition of this function having now been successfully absorbed into the Australian National Audit Office.

I commend the Bill to the Senate.