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Monday, 28 February 2011
Page: 696


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Crossin)—Pursuant to standing orders 38 and 166, I present documents as listed below which were presented to the President, the Deputy President and Temporary Chairmen of Committees since the Senate last sat. In accordance with the terms of the standing orders, the publication of the documents was authorised.

The list read as follows—

(a)   Committee report

Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works—1st report—Referrals made in October and November 2010 (received 22 February 2011)

(b)   Government responses to parliamentary committee reports 1.     Economics Legislation Committee—Report—Tax Laws Amendment (Public Benefit Test) Bill 2010 (received 11 February 2011) 2.     Finance and Public Administration—Standing Committee—Report—Residential and community aged care in Australia (received 17 February 2011) 3.     Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee—Report—The effectiveness of Airservices Australia’s management of aircraft noise (received 22 February 2011) 4.     Environment, Communications and the Arts Committee--Report--The reporting of sports news and the emergence of digital media (received 25 February 2011)

1.   Economics Legislation Committee—Report—Tax Laws Amendment (Public Benefit Test) Bill 2010 (received 11 February 2011)

2.   Finance and Public Administration—Standing Committee—Report—Residential and community aged care in Australia (received 17 February 2011)

3.   Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee—Report—The effectiveness of Airservices Australia’s management of aircraft noise (received 22 February 2011)

4.   Environment, Communications and the Arts Committee--Report--The reporting of sports news and the emergence of digital media (received 25 February 2011)

(c)   Government document         Commonwealth Grants Commission--Report on state revenue sharing relativities--2010 update (received 25 February 2011)

(d)   Reports of the Auditor-General 1.     Report no. 28 of 2010-11—Performance audit—Management of the Australian Broadband Guarantee Program: Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (received 15 February 2011) 2.     Report no. 29 of 2010-11—Performance audit—Management of the implementation of new policy initiatives: Australian Federal Police (received 16 February 2011) 3.     Report no. 30 of 2010-11—Performance audit—Digital Education Revolution program—National secondary schools computer fund: Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (received 17 February 2011)

1.   Report no. 28 of 2010-11—Performance audit—Management of the Australian Broadband Guarantee Program: Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (received 15 February 2011)

2.   Report no. 29 of 2010-11—Performance audit—Management of the implementation of new policy initiatives: Australian Federal Police (received 16 February 2011)

3.   Report no. 30 of 2010-11—Performance audit—Digital Education Revolution program—National secondary schools computer fund: Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (received 17 February 2011)

(e)   Letters of advice relating to Senate orders 1.     Letter of advice relating to lists of contracts:

  • Australian Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Authority (received 22 February 2011)
2.     Letters of advice relating to lists of departmental and agency appointments and vacancies:
  • Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry portfolio (received 11 February 2011)
  • Climate Change and Energy Efficiency portfolio (received 14 February 2011)
  • Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs portfolio (received 14 February 2011)
  • Australian National Audit Office (received 14 February 2011)
  • Australian Public Service Commission (received 14 February 2011)
  • Commonwealth Ombudsman (received 14 February 2011)
  • Office of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (received 14 February 2011)
  • Attorney-General’s portfolio (received 15 February 2011)
  • Finance and Deregulation portfolio (received 15 February 2011)
  • Australian Information Commissioner (received 15 February 2011)
  • Innovation, Industry, Science and Research portfolio [2] (received 15 February 2011)
  • National Archives of Australia (received 15 February 2011)
  • Office for the Arts (received 15 February 2011)
  • Education, Employment and Workplace Relations portfolio (received 16 February 2011)
  • Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities portfolio (received 16 February 2011)
  • Human Services portfolio (received 17 February 2011)
  • Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (received 18 February 2011)
  • Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General (received 18 February 2011)
  • Veterans’ Affairs portfolio (received 18 February 2011)
  • Office for Sport (received 18 February 2011)
3.     Letters of advice relating to lists of departmental and agency grants:
  • Climate Change and Energy Efficiency portfolio (received 14 February 2011)
  • Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs portfolio (received 14 February 2011)
  • Australian National Audit Office (received 14 February 2011)
  • Australian Public Service Commission (received 14 February 2011)
  • Commonwealth Ombudsman (received 14 February 2011)
  • Office of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (received 14 February 2011)
  • Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities portfolio (received 14 February 2011)
  • Finance and Deregulation portfolio (received 15 February 2011)
  • Australian Information Commissioner (received 15 February 2011)
  • Innovation, Industry, Science and Research portfolio [2] (received 15 February 2011)
  • National Archives of Australia (received 15 February 2011)
  • Office for the Arts (received 15 February 2011)
  • Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government (received 15 February 2011)
  • Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (received 17 February 2011)
  • Human Services portfolio (received 17 February 2011)
  • Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (received 18 February 2011)
  • Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General (received 18 February 2011)
  • Veterans’ Affairs portfolio (received 18 February 2011)
  • Office for Sport (received 18 February 2011)
  • Health and Ageing portfolio (received 18 February 2011)

Ordered that the committee reports be printed.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —In accordance with the usual practice and with the concurrence of the Senate, the government responses will be incorporated in Hansard.

The document read as follows—

Senate Economics Legislation Committee

Inquiry into Tax Laws Amendment (Public Benefit Test) Bill 2010

Government Response

Recommendation 1: The Committee recommends that the incoming government should follow the emerging international best practice and work with the Council of Australian Governments to amend legislation governing not-far-profit entities to include a definition and test of ‘public benefit’.

Recommendation 3: The Committee recommends that the incoming government work through COAG to establish a single independent national commission for not-for-profit organisations. The incoming government should establish a working group, or use the COAG Business Regulation and Competition Working Group. The working group should consult extensively with the sector in a timely manner to address issues arising from the establishment of a commission which applies a public benefit test. The Australian model should draw on the Charity Commissions in the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

Recommendation 4: The Committee recommends that the working group consider the functions and role of an Australian commission which should include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • promote public trust and confidence in the charitable sector;
  • encourage and promote the effective use of charitable resources;
  • develop and maintain a register of all not-for-profit organisations in Australia using a unique identifying number (for ‘example an ABN) as the identifier;
  • develop and maintain an accessible, searchable public interface;
  • undertake either an annual descriptive analysis of the organisations that it regulates or provide the required information annually to the ABS for collation and analysis;
  • educate and assist charities in relation to matters of good governance and management;
  • facilitate, consider and process applications for registration as charitable entities;
  • process annual returns submitted by charitable entities;
  • supply information and documents in appropriate circumstances for the purposes of the Tax Acts;
  • monitor charitable entities and their activities to ensure that registered entities continue to be qualified;
  • inquire into charitable entities and persons engaging in serious wrongdoing in connection with a charitable entity;
  • monitor and promote compliance with legislation;
  • consider, report and make recommendations in relation to any matter relating to charities; and
  • stimulate and promote research into any matter relating to charities.

The Government committed to strengthening the not-for-profit sector in its 2010 election campaign including a scoping study for a national regulator for the sector to be completed in early 2011.

The Government will consider the recommendations of the Senate Economic Legislation Committee as part of the scoping study for a national regulator that Treasury has been tasked to undertake.

  • A test of public benefit would be considered as part of any proposal to codify the key principles of the common law definition of charity.

Recommendation 2: The Committee recommends that the Attorney-General’s Department provide a report to the Committee on the operation of Miviludes and other law enforcement agencies overseas tasked with monitoring and controlling the unacceptable and/or illegal activities of cult-like organisations who use psychological pressure and breaches of general and industrial law to maintain control over individuals. The report should advise on the effectiveness of Miviludes and other similar organisations, given issues that need to be addressed to develop an international best practice approach for dealing with cult-like behaviour.

The Government does not support this recommendation.

The Government recognises the financial, psychological and emotional impact that the activities of cult-like organisations can have on individuals and their families and considers that religious observance should not be regarded as a shield behind which breaches of the law can be hidden. However, it is doubtful that the Commonwealth has legislative authority under the Constitution to establish an agency with similar functions to the French Mission interministerielle de vigilance et de lutte contre les derives sectaires (“Miviludes”).

Miviludes’ primary tasks include:

  • observing and analysing the movement of religious and other groups which are perceived as constituting a threat to public order or that violate French law;
  • producing and archiving documentation and discussion papers on groups considered “sects”;
  • providing information and training relating to potential threats to public order to the media, the French government and individuals; and
  • helping victims of “sectarian deviances” to receive financial aid.

Australia is home to a diversity of faiths, united by tolerance, mutual respect and a commitment to democratic traditions. All Australians are free to choose their religion and are able to express and practise their religion and their beliefs, without intimidation and without interference. The Government considers that it is not the Government’s role to interfere with the religious beliefs or practices of individuals, unless they are in breach of Australian laws.

States and territories are generally responsible for criminal laws and enforcement action directed against criminal activity including conduct resulting in physical, emotional or psychological harm perpetrated by members of religious organisations. Law enforcement agencies and Directors of Public Prosecutions are appropriately equipped to deal with allegations of wrongdoing or criminal activity.

State and territory laws also provide for restitution and compensation for victims in certain circumstances, including through victims of crime compensation schemes. Access to such schemes varies depending on specific criteria in the relevant state or territory.

On 8 March 2006, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief released “Mission to France,” addendum two to her report, “Civil and Political Rights, Including the Question of Religious Intolerance” (E/CN.4/2006/5/Add.4). The report concerned France’s policies in the late 1990s, during the terms of Miviludes’ two predecessors. The Special Rapporteur’s findings included a statement that the policies “undermined the right to freedom of religion or belief and raised serious concerns about religious intolerance.” The Special Rapporteur indicated an intention to continue to closely monitor Miviludes to ensure its actions remained consistent with the right to freedom of religion and to “avoid past mistakes”.

The Government does not propose to provide any further report on the operation of Miviludes and other law enforcement agencies overseas who monitor and/or control “cult-like” activities.


AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO SENATE STANDING COMMITTEE ON FINANCE AND PUBLIC ADMINISTRA-TION REPORT

RESIDENTIAL AND COMMUNITY AGED CARE IN AUSTRALIA

OCTOBER 2010

Australian Government Response: Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee Report: Residential and Community Aged Care in Australia

INTRODUCTION

The Australian Government welcomes the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration on Residential and Community Aged Care in Australia. The Government is committed to the long-term viability of Australia’s aged care sector and the protection of the nation’s frail and elderly. Through the Council of Australian Governments it has reformed roles and responsibilities within the federation to take full policy and funding responsibility for aged care. This will allow the Government to build a national aged care system to provide better support for older Australians. The reforms will also support the integration of the aged care system with Local Hospital Networks through the Government’s National Health and Hospitals Network.

Over the next four years, increased funding from the Australian Government will bring direct financial support for aged and community care providers who care for older Australians to a record level of $47.8 billion, including $10.8 billion in 2010-11.

The Australian Government will invest more than $900 million over the next four years to deliver:

  • a national aged care system
  • more highly qualified aged care workers;
  • more aged care places;
  • more health care services; and
  • greater protections for older Australians receiving care.

This investment builds on:

the Australian Government’s commitment to maintain the Conditional Adjustment

Payment in the forward estimates - worth $2.3 billion over the next four years;

the $15 million provided in the last budget to increase the viability supplement for rural and remote residential aged care providers; and

the $728 million flowing to aged care providers as a result of the Australian Government’s pension reforms.

The Australian Government has also asked the Productivity Commission to conduct the most comprehensive inquiry into aged care for decades. The Commission is due to report by the end of April 2011. The recommendations of the Commission and the recommendations of the Henry Review of taxation, together with the recommendations contained in the Senate’s report, will provide vital input into future policy deliberations.

The Prime Minister has made it clear that further reform of the aged care sector will be a second term priority for the Gillard Government.

RESPONSE TO RECOMMENDATIONS

The Committee made 31 recommendations. The Australian Government response to specific recommendations is provided below.

Recommendation 1

The committee recommends the establishment of a national aged care forum, reporting directly to the Minister for Health and Ageing and coordinated by the Department of Health and Ageing, to consider, on an on-going basis, current and future challenges to the aged care sector.

Response

The Australian Government supports Recommendation 1 of the Committee.

The Australian Government established the Ageing Consultative Committee in June 2008 to provide the Minister for Ageing with relevant advice, on an on-going basis, on current and future challenges to the aged care sector. The Committee’s membership includes for-profit and not-for-profit care providers, consumer groups, and professional and union bodies.

Recommendation 2

The committee recommends that the national aged care forum establish a taskforce (or equivalent body) representative of all involved aged care stakeholders including clients to action and where possible implement determinations of the national forum.

Response

The Australian Government supports in principle Recommendation 2 of the Committee.

The Australian Government’s Ageing Consultative Committee already has the capacity to establish working groups as needed to address issues that may arise. Recent working groups have developed a Charter of Rights and Responsibilities for Care Recipients in Community Care and a detailed proposal for the phased implementation of consumer directed care into community aged care programs. A Quality in Community Care Reference Group has been established to provide advice on issues related to quality assurance in community care and input, as requested, on specific aspects of the development of enhanced quality assurance mechanisms.

The Australian Government has also established an Aged Care Workforce Committee to assist the Department of Health and Ageing in formulating advice to the Minister on

key areas relating to the aged care workforce.

Recommendation 3

The committee recommends that the Department of Health and Ageing, in cooperation with the suggested taskforce and in partnership with all involved stakeholders including clients, undertake an all-encompassing review of the Aged Care Act 1997 and related regulations. The review should:

equally examine the provision of residential and community aged care services in Australia with consideration of both current and future challenges in the provision of aged care services;

provide future projections to enable both short and longer-term sectoral planning.

Response

The Australian Government supports in principle Recommendation 3 of the Committee.

The Australian Government has commissioned the Productivity Commission to conduct a public inquiry into Australia’s aged care needs over the coming decades. In undertaking the inquiry, the Commission will develop options for further structural reform of the aged care system so it can meet the challenges facing it in coming decades. In particular, the Commission will:

  • examine the social, clinical and institutional aspects of aged care in Australia, building on the substantial base of existing reviews into this sector;
  • address the interests of special needs groups;
  • develop regulatory and funding options for residential and community aged care (including the Home and Community Care program);
  • examine the future workforce requirements of the aged care sector;
  • recommend a path for transitioning from the current regulatory arrangements to a
  • new system that ensures continuity of care and allows the sector time to adjust;
  • examine whether the regulation of retirement specific living options should be aligned more closely with the rest of the aged care sector; and
  • assess the fiscal implications of any change in aged care roles and responsibilities.

The Commission is due to report by the end of April 2011.

Recommendation 4

The committee recommends that the Department of Health and Ageing in association with the suggested taskforce and in consultation with all aged care stakeholders including clients undertake analysis to establish benchmark of care costs.

Response

The Australian Government does not support Recommendation 4 of the Committee.

A similar recommendation was made by the Productivity Commission in its 1988 Inquiry into Nursing Homes Subsidies. The Australian Government at that time did not accept the Commission’s proposal as the most appropriate way to assess the adequacy of Government subsidies and resident contributions in meeting average costs.

The Australian Government considers that the sustainability of the industry as a whole is best measured by:

  • macroeconomic indicators of viability of the industry such as the level of building activity in the industry, the level of interest expressed by providers in entering or expanding their involvement in the industry, and the prices paid for ‘licences’ to operate in the industry; and
  • detailed economic simulations of high care and low care homes to see what factors influence the viability of individual homes.

This view was confirmed by Professor Len Gray in his independent Two Year Review of Aged Care Reforms, which was completed in 2001, who indicated that such a benchmarking process would be very complex and expensive to undertake. The Australian Government’s preferred approach is also in line with that adopted by Professor Hogan in his independent Review of Pricing Arrangements in Residential Aged Care, which was completed in 2004.

Recommendation 5

The committee recommends that the Department of Health and Ageing recommence publication of Audited General Purpose Financial Reports as soon practicable and continue to publish such reports annually as a matter of course.

Response

The Australian Government supports Recommendation 5 of the Committee.

The Department of Health and Ageing has published the deidentified data sets it has derived from the Audited General Purpose Financial Reports of approved providers of residential aged care for 2006-07 and 2007-08. It will publish the deidentified data set for the 2008-09 Audited General Purpose Financial Reports as soon as it is available.

In addition, through the National Health and Hospitals Network—Aged care—increasing business efficiency measure in the 2010-11 Budget, the Australian Government will provide $7.0 million over the next four years (including $0.3 million in capital) to improve the business efficiency of aged care providers by establishing a new provider benchmarking system. The new benchmarking system will allow aged care providers to compare their operational and service performance with other providers, and identify areas where they can improve their performance. This information will also be available to consumers to inform their choice of an aged care service provider.

Eligible aged care providers will also have access to financial advisory services to improve their operational efficiency. This will include financial advice on strategic planning, business analysis, operational reviews and human resources management.

Recommendation 6

The committee recommends that the Department of Health and Ageing review the Audited General Purpose Financial Reports with an aim to identifying any necessary reporting changes to ensure that the information available provides a clear and comparative understanding of provider performance.

Response

The Australian Government supports in principle Recommendation 6 of the Committee.

To satisfy the financial reporting eligibility requirement for the Conditional Adjustment Payment, a residential aged care provider must prepare a financial report that:

  • is a general purpose financial report within the meaning of Statement of Accounting Concepts SAC 2 ‘Objective of General Purpose Financial Reporting’;
  • is in accordance with the accounting standards;
  • gives a true and fair view of the financial position and performance of the entity for the financial year;
  • has been audited by a registered company auditor (within the meaning of the Corporations Act 2001), or a person approved by the Department of Health and Ageing.

The Australian Government considers that General Purpose Financial Reports are the most appropriate statements for aged care providers to prepare, because, as the Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) says, ‘general purpose financial reporting focuses on providing information to meet the common information needs of users who are unable to command the preparation of reports tailored to their particular information needs. These users must rely on the information communicated to them by the reporting entity.’ (AASB, Statement of Accounting Concepts 2, paragraph 7)

In addition, through the National Health and Hospitals Network—Aged care—increasing business efficiency measure in the 2010-11 Budget, the Australian Government will provide $7.0 million over the next four years (including $0.3 million in capital) to improve the business efficiency of aged care providers by establishing a new provider benchmarking system. The new benchmarking system will allow aged care providers to compare their operational and service performance with other providers, and identify areas where they can improve their performance. This information will also be available to consumers to inform their choice of an aged care service provider.

Eligible aged care providers will also have access to financial advisory services to improve their operational efficiency. This will include financial advice on strategic planning, business analysis, operational reviews and human resources management.

Recommendation 7

The committee recommends the establishment of a nationally consistent methodological approach to data gathering and research on the financial status of the residential and community aged care sector. Towards this goal, the committee recommends the establishment of a roundtable of key stakeholders engaged in such research and facilitated by the Department of Health and Ageing to discuss and agree upon common indicators and definitions to enable comparative analysis.

Response

The Australian Government supports in principle Recommendation 7 of the Committee.

The Australian Government is currently considering these issues at a whole-ofgovernment level. An overall review of reporting requirements and a commitment to reducing red tape for non-profit organisations has been made by Business Regulation and Competition Working Group of the Council of Australian Governments. This initiative will review: the operating structures for non-profit organizations and supporting legislation; fundraising licensing requirements and supporting legislation; governance and financial reporting; and the role of regulators.

In addition, in its response to the Report of the Senate Standing Committee on Economics’ inquiry into disclosure regimes for charities and not-for profit organisations, the Australian Government indicated that it was considering policy reforms in response to the review by the Treasury of financial reporting by unlisted companies under the Corporations Act 2001. The response also indicated that the Government would develop a Commonwealth grants policy framework, including arrangements to minimise unnecessary red tape for grant recipients. This framework came into effect 1 July 2009 and is referred to as the Commonwealth Grant Guidelines.

The Australian Government has already moved towards consistent financial reporting in the residential aged care sector through the requirement that aged care providers produce General Purpose Financial Statement in accordance with all Australian accounting standards, and audited by a Registered Company Auditor, in order to be eligible for the Conditional Adjustment Payment.

In addition, through the National Health and Hospitals Network—Aged care—increasing business efficiency measure in the 2010-11 Budget, the Australian Government will provide $7.0 million over the next four years (including $0.3 million in capital) to improve the business efficiency of aged care providers by establishing a new provider benchmarking system. The new benchmarking system will allow aged care providers to compare their operational and service performance with other providers, and identify areas where they can improve their performance. This information will also be available to consumers to inform their choice of an aged care service provider.

Eligible aged care providers will also have access to financial advisory services to improve their operational efficiency. This will include financial advice on strategic planning, business analysis, operational reviews and human resources management.

Recommendation 8

The committee recommends that the Department of Health and Ageing in association with the suggested taskforce (or equivalent body) and in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare review and address deficiencies in information in the aged care sector.

Response

The Australian Government supports Recommendation 8 of the Committee.

The Department of Health and Ageing will continue to work with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to ensure the availability of reliable statistical information on the aged care sector.

Recommendation 9

The committee recommends that the Department of Health and Ageing undertake a ‘stress test’ of the aged care sector in order to measure the sector’s financial wellbeing.

Response

The Australian Government supports in principle Recommendation 9 of the Committee.

The Australian Government continually assesses that the sustainability of the industry by monitoring:

  • macroeconomic indicators of viability of the industry such as the level of building activity in the industry, the level of interest expressed by providers in entering or expanding their involvement in the industry, and the prices paid for ‘licences’ to operate in the industry; and
  • detailed economic simulations of high care and low care homes to see what factors influence the viability of individual homes.

Recommendation 10

The committee recommends that the Department of Health and Ageing, in association with the suggested taskforce, undertake a review:

  • to identify the costs and resources required to meet new regulation, accreditation and compliance measures with a view to rationalising the administrative processes as required; and
  • to identify more cost effective means of meeting the requirements of the compliance framework.

Response

The Australian Government supports in principle Recommendation 10 of the Committee.

The Australian Government considers the costs of compliance when making regulation and the costs of regulation introduced in recent years has been assessed as minor.

The Australian Government currently has a number of processes underway that will examine key aspects of aged care regulation and these will provide opportunities to consider the scope to streamline regulation and reduce administrative and compliance burdens. These include the Productivity Commission’s Caring for Older Australians Inquiry and the review of aged care accreditation standards and processes.

The Australian Government is also currently working to implement recommendations made by the Productivity Commission in its review of regulatory burdens in social and economic infrastructure services.

The development of a nationally unified aged care system will also provide the Australian Government with a platform to streamline provider administrative and compliance processes.

Recommendation 11

The committee recommends that the Department of Health and Ageing implement measures, including additional funding, to assist smaller providers to meet the requirements of the compliance framework.

Response

The Australian Government supports in principle Recommendation 11 of the Committee.

A viability supplement is paid to eligible residential aged care providers, including smaller providers, in regional, rural and remote areas to assist with the additional costs of providing care in these areas. In the 2009-10 Budget, the Australian Government provided an additional $14.8 million for this supplement, over two years, to increase the average level of the viability supplement for eligible aged care homes by 40 per cent. In the 2010-11 Budget, the Australian Government provided an additional $10.1 million for this supplement, over four years, to increase the average level of the viability supplement for eligible providers of community care packages by 40 per cent.

The Australian Government also subsidises the costs of accreditation for small aged care homes.

Recommendation 12

The committee recommends that the issue of professional nursing and other aged care staffing requirements be considered in the overarching review of the aged care sector.

Response

The Australian Government supports in principle Recommendation 12 of the Committee.

The Australian Government has commissioned the Productivity Commission to conduct a public inquiry into Australia’s aged care needs over the coming decades. In undertaking the inquiry, the Commission will develop options for further structural reform of the aged care system so it can meet the challenges facing it in coming decades. In particular, the Commission will examine the future workforce requirements of the aged care sector. The Commission is due to report by the end of April 2011.

The Australian Government has also established an Aged Care Workforce Committee to assist the Department of Health and Ageing in formulating advice to the Minister on how best to meet Australian Government policy objectives in key areas relating to the aged care workforce.

The Australian Government will commit more than $310 million over the next four years to support the aged care workforce and to support aged care workers while they undertake education and training.

New measures in the 2010-11 Budget worth $103 million over four years will enable The Australian Government to:

  • Support and encourage aged care workers to upskill by introducing an Aged Care Education and Training Incentive Payments scheme, which will provide payments of up to $5,000 to support up to 50,000 aged care workers over the next four years while they undertake training and further education ($59.9 million).
  • Provide an additional 600 fully funded enrolled nurse training places and 300 undergraduate nursing scholarships ($21 million).
  • Build on its reforms that recognise the important role of nurse practitioners, through an $18.7 million investment to establish different models of practice to utilise nurse practitioners in aged care ($18.7 million).
  • Work to document a national scope of practice and competency framework for personal carer workers and assistants in nursing ($3.7 million).

The Australian Government will also shift the focus of its existing workforce programs ($211.2 million) to improve clinical care. This will include:

  • Introducing Teaching Nursing Homes to strengthen the links between the aged care sector, research and training institutions and support the sector’s engagement with Local Hospital Networks.
  • For the first time, providing financial incentives for aged care providers to make available up to 400 nursing graduate placements to ensure new graduates benefit from experienced clinical support and mentoring.
  • Up to 640 clinical training placements to enable improved clinical training and supervision in the sector.
  • 40 aged care nurse practitioner scholarships to build on the Australian Government’s MB S and PBS reforms for nurse practitioners.
  • Ongoing provision of undergraduate and postgraduate training and scholarships to grow the nursing workforce (2,520 places )
  • Support for up to 2,600 enrolled nurse training places.
  • Continuing to support the skill base of personal care workers through the provision of 18,600 Certificate III and IV qualifications and 7,000 short courses.

In total, the Australian Government will fund more than 31,000 aged care training places and scholarships and more than 1000 clinical and graduate placements over the next four years.

In addition, through the National Health and Hospitals Network—Workforce—research into aged care staffing levels measure in the 2010-11 Budget, the Australian Government will provide $0.5 million over two years to conduct research into aged care staffing levels. Research will examine the relationship between staffing and the quality of care, supervision and support for residents with particular types of care needs.

Recommendation 13

The committee recommends that the Department of Health and Ageing, in association with the suggested taskforce, review aged care staffing challenges and identify methods of address, with particular focus on staffing requirements in rural and remote areas.

Response

The Australian Government supports in principle Recommendation 13 of the Committee.

The Australian Government has commissioned the Productivity Commission to conduct a public inquiry into Australia’s aged care needs over the coming decades. In undertaking the inquiry, the Commission will develop options for further structural reform of the aged care system so it can meet the challenges facing it in coming decades. In particular, the Commission will examine the future workforce requirements of the aged care sector. The Commission is due to report by the end of April 2011.

The Australian Government has also established an Aged Care Workforce Committee to assist the Department of Health and Ageing in formulating advice to the Minister on how best to meet Australian Government policy objectives in key areas relating to the aged care workforce.

In addition, through the National Health and Hospitals Network—Workforce—research into aged care staffing levels measure in the 2010-11 Budget, the Australian Government will provide $0.5 million over two years to conduct research into aged care staffing levels. Research will examine the relationship between staffing and the quality of care, supervision and support for residents with particular types of care needs.

Recommendation 14

The committee recommends that the taskforce undertake a review of the indexation formula used for the aged care sector in order to identify its adequacy in relation to costs faced by the sector and to identify modifications to the formula if required.

The committee further recommends that consideration be given to an independent mechanism to continually assess the indexation formula.

Response

The Australian Government notes Recommendation 14 of the Committee.

The Australian Government has commissioned the Productivity Commission to conduct a public inquiry into Australia’s aged care needs over the coming decades. In undertaking the inquiry, the Commission will develop options for further structural reform of the aged care system so it can meet the challenges facing it in coming decades. In particular, the Commission has been asked to examine options that are financially sustainable for Government and individuals with appropriate levels of private contributions, with transparent financing for services, that reflect the cost of care and provide sufficient revenue to meet quality standards, provide an appropriately skilled and adequately remunerated workforce, and earn a return that will attract the investment, including capital investment, needed to meet future demand.

Recommendation 15

The committee recommends that the all-encompassing review specifically consider the provision of aged care services in rural and remote areas and the effectiveness of the current viability supplement to support service provision.

Response

The Australian Government supports in principle Recommendation 15 of the Committee.

In the 2009-10 Budget, the Australian Government provided an additional $14.8 million for this supplement, over two years, to increase the average level of the viability supplement for eligible aged care homes by 40 per cent. In the 2010-11 Budget, the Australian Government provided an additional $10.1 million for this supplement, over four years, to increase the average level of the viability supplement for eligible providers of community care packages by 40 per cent.

The Australian Government has commissioned the Productivity Commission to conduct a public inquiry into Australia’s aged care needs over the coming decades. In undertaking the inquiry, the Commission will develop options for further structural reform of the aged care system so it can meet the challenges facing it in coming decades. In particular, the Commission will address the interests of special needs groups, including people living in rural and remote areas. The Commission is due to report by the end of April 2011.

Recommendation 16

The committee recommends that the Commonwealth and Norfolk Island Government initiate discussions in relation to a proposal to develop homecare services on Norfolk Island.

Response

The Australian Government supports in principle Recommendation 16 of the Committee.

The Australian Government is committed to working with the Norfolk Island Government to explore the possible need for further reforms to improve services available to people on Norfolk Island.

Recommendation 17

The committee recommends that the all-encompassing review specifically consider and address the expectations and needs of persons from non-English speaking backgrounds.

Response

The Australian Government supports in principle Recommendation 17 of the Committee.

The Australian Government has made an election commitment to strengthen support for the delivery of culturally appropriate care to older people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds living in residential aged care facilities. The Government will invest $5 million to provide improved access to translation services and cultural awareness training for aged care staff.

The Australian Government has commissioned the Productivity Commission to conduct a public inquiry into Australia’s aged care needs over the coming decades. In undertaking the inquiry, the Commission will develop options for further structural reform of the aged care system so it can meet the challenges facing it in coming decades. In particular, the Commission will address the interests of special needs groups, including culturally and linguistically diverse communities. The Commission is due to report by the end of April 2011.

The Australian Government’s Ageing Consultative Committee has also identified this issue as one requiring its further attention.

Recommendation 18

The committee recommends that the Department of Health and Ageing conduct a review into the implications of ‘elderly homeless’ incorporated as a special needs category under the Aged Care Act 1997.

Response

The Australian Government supports in principle Recommendation 18 of the Committee.

On 20 May 2009, the then Minister for Ageing, the Hon Justine Elliot, announced the amendment of the Aged Care Act 1997 to include homeless older people as a ‘special needs’ group to formally recognise their unique requirements. This was one of several measures to improve the care and support for older homeless Australians announced in response to the December 2008 White Paper on Homelessness, The Road Home.

Recommendation 19

The committee recommends that the suggested all-encompassing aged care review specifically consider and address the expectations and needs of the homeless and other socio-economically disadvantaged persons.

Response

The Australian Government supports in principle Recommendation 19 of the Committee.

On 20 May 2009, the then Minister for Ageing, the Hon Justine Elliot, announced the amendment of the Aged Care Act 1997 to include homeless older people as a ‘special needs’ group to formally recognise their unique requirements. This was one of several measures to improve the care and support for older homeless Australians announced in response to the December 2008 White Paper on Homelessness, The Road Home.

The Australian Government also committed to a continuation of the Assistance with Care and Housing for the Aged program and to make capital grants available for at least one aged care home for older people who are homeless or at risk of being homeless each year for the next four years.

In addition, the Australian Government has commissioned the Productivity Commission to conduct a public inquiry into Australia’s aged care needs over the coming decades.

In undertaking the inquiry, the Commission will develop options for further structural reform of the aged care system so it can meet the challenges facing it in coming decades. In particular, the Commission will address the interests of special needs groups, including those who are homeless or at risk of being homeless. The Commission is due to report by the end of April 2011.

Recommendation 20

The committee recommends that the suggested all-encompassing aged care review specifically consider and address the expectations and needs of elderly Indigenous Australians and their communities.

Response

The Australian Government supports in principle Recommendation 20 of the Committee.

On 11 November 2008, the then Minister for Ageing, the Hon Justine Elliot, detailed the next stage of the Australian Government’s $46 million Indigenous Aged Care Plan. The plan is about taking practical and commonsense measures to improve the care and welfare of older indigenous Australians. The Australian Government will work with Indigenous communities to improve their facilities and care, and find the right balance between cultural sensitivity and ensuring the health and welfare of older and frail Indigenous people.

In addition, the Australian Government has commissioned the Productivity Commission to conduct a public inquiry into Australia’s aged care needs over the coming decades.

In undertaking the inquiry, the Commission will develop options for further structural reform of the aged care system so it can meet the challenges facing it in coming decades. In particular, the Commission will address the interests of special needs groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Commission is due to report by the end of April 2011.

Recommendation 21

The committee recommends that the Department of Health and Ageing consider further initiatives to attract culturally-appropriate staff in consultation with involved stakeholders including Indigenous clients.

Response

The Australian Government supports in principle Recommendation 21 of the Committee.

The Australian Government has introduced new aged care workforce programs and restructured existing programs to deliver more flexible training initiatives focussed on improving clinical care, assisting recruitment and retention and creating career paths. This includes investment in training from vocational places through to undergraduate and postgraduate nursing qualifications, support for clinical and graduate placements, and financial incentives to encourage aged care workers to undertake study and remain in the workforce. An unqualified personal care worker will be able to progress through the vocational education system onto undergraduate nursing studies and postgraduate study.

The recent reforms announced in the 2010-11 Budget will benefit all aged care workers. In rolling out these reforms, the Department of Health and Ageing will ensure that appropriate strategies are in place to effectively target and provide training support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander aged care staff. Additional support for workers in financially less viable facilities in rural and remote services will continue and this includes travel, accommodation and some backfilling costs for staff attending training.

The Specialised Training Project currently provides funding for up to 2,000 training places over four years to up-skill community aged care workers from a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) and an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) background to attain accredited community aged care related competencies and/or qualifications.

Since July 2007, four separate initiatives have been implemented to create over 700 permanent part-time positions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in aged care services nationally. These initiatives stem from changes to Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) processes.

To date, approximately 81 part-time positions in Home and Community Care (HACC) and Aboriginal Flexible services have been implemented nationally in urban and regional locations under Building an Indigenous Workforce in Community Care. A further 349 permanent part-time employment positions have been funded under the Northern Territory Emergency Response Welfare Reform Agenda. Of these, 304 are in the HACC program and 45 part-time positions in Aboriginal Flexible and residential aged care services. Under the Cape York Welfare Reform Trial, 12 part-time positions have been created in four communities in Cape York in the HACC program and in residential and aged care services.

In 2009, under the National Partnership for Indigenous Economic Particpation, approximately 260 part-time positions were funded in HACC, Flexible and residential aged care services from further changes to CDEP processes.

In 2010, the extension of the National Partnership for Indigenous Economic Partnership into the Torres Strait Islands will see up to 50 permanent part-time positions being funded for Torres Strait Islander workers in their own communities.

All of these initiatives include funding for training and other workforce supports aimed at improving retention rates of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers in aged care services. This is currently being implemented in the Northern Territory and Cape York, and will roll out nationally in 2010.

In 2010, the Department is also implementing 80 business administration traineeships in remote regions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers in aged care services under the Indigenous Remote Service Delivery initiative.

Recommendation 22

The committee recommends that the Australian Government implement the recommendation of the 2007 National Review of Aged Care Assessment Teams and review the legislative requirement for re-assessment of those residents:

moving from low to high care within an aged care complex where the low and high care facilities have separate provider numbers; and entering an aged care facility with a low care approval but who require high care.

Response

The Australian Government supports Recommendation 22 in part, with further consideration occurring as part of the Review of the Aged Care Funding Instrument.

While an Aged Care Assessment Team approval is required to enable classification of a resident as high care when they first enter an aged care home, current arrangements do allow residents to move from low to high care as their needs change without reassessment by an Aged Care Assessment Team. This applies whether they are ‘ageing in place’ in the same complex or transferring to another facility.

Issues around the relationship between Aged Care Assessment Team assessments and the Aged Care Funding Instrument are being considered as part of the Review of the Aged Care Funding Instrument.

Recommendation 23

In the light of disparities in information regarding the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) assessments and re-assessments between the Department of Health and Ageing and involved providers, the committee recommends that the department launch an information campaign on recent reforms to the ACAT.

Response

The Australian Government supports in principle Recommendation 23 of the Committee.

A communication strategy was developed and actioned to implement the legislation changes. The Department of Health and Ageing has produced the following materials:

  • Guide to changes to the Regulatory Framework for Aged Care
  • Fact sheet on the Legislative Changes relevant to the Aged Care Assessment Teams
  • Guide for Aged Care Assessment Team reassessment requirements effective from 1 July 2009
  • Frequently Asked Questions on the Aged Care Amendment (2008 Measures No. 2) Act 2008
  • Advice sheet for Medicare Australia
  • Guide for ACATs to answer consumer queries
  • Advice sheet for Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres

All Fact Sheet material was provided to service providers, ACATs, peak bodies, Medicare Australia and Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres is available in newsletters and on the Department website (www.health.gov.au/acats).

The Department has also written to people who have been approved for high level residential care, residential respite care, EACH or EACH D packages on or after 1 July 2008 who have not yet entered care and whose approvals were not time limited so that they expired before 1 July 2009, to inform them that the approval will no longer automatically lapse after twelve months and that the person will continue to be eligible for these types of care.

Recommendation 24

The committee recommends that the Department of Health and Ageing review methods directed to affirming the ACAT as a single nationally consistent program which genuinely serves as a single entry point to aged care services. The review should entail dialogue with aged care clients and providers as well as liaison with state and territory health departments.

Response

The Australian Government does not support Recommendation 24 of the Committee.

It is not appropriate that the ACAT be the single entry point to aged care services.

Through the National Health and Hospitals Network—Aged care—one stop shops measure in the 2010-11 Budget, the Australian Government will provide $36.8 million over four years (including $20.0 million in capital in 2010-11) to enable older Australians and their families to more easily access information and assessment for aged care services, through establishing one stop shops across the country. The Australian Government will fund a national, integrated aged care system offering information and assessment through telephone and web based technology, which will assist older Australians to access services in the place that best suits their care needs. This measure will also enable older Australians to be linked to assessment services, including through the one stop shops purchasing more complex aged care assessment services. This will enable one stop shops to better refer older people to appropriate assessment and care services.

Recommendation 25

The committee recommends that the Department of Health and Ageing conduct a national education campaign directed at new and potential aged care clients to raise awareness of the aged care services available to them including the role of ACAT and of their rights and entitlements in relation to such services.

Response

The Australian Government supports in principle Recommendation 25 of the Committee.

The Australian Government already provides information and advice to new, potential and existing aged care clients on the services available to them through a variety of outlets, including:

  • the Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres network operates through 54 centres and around 65 ‘shopfronts’ around Australia;
  • the Aged Care Information Line - a national freecall service to provide information about aged care services; and
  • Australian Government web based information services for older people, namely:

www.agedcareaustralia.gov.au

www.commcarelink.health.gov.au

In addition, through the National Health and Hospitals Network—Aged care—one stop shops measure in the 2010-11 Budget, the Australian Government will provide $36.8 million over four years (including $20.0 million in capital in 2010-11) to enable older Australians and their families to more easily access information and assessment for aged care services, through establishing one stop shops across the country.

The Australian Government will fund a national, integrated aged care system offering information and assessment through telephone and web based technology, which will assist older Australians to access services in the place that best suits their care needs. This measure will also enable older Australians to be linked to assessment services, including through the one stop shops purchasing more complex aged care assessment services. This will enable one stop shops to better refer older people to appropriate assessment and care services.

Recommendation 26

The committee recommends that the Department of Health and Ageing analyse decoupling of residential care and accommodation. Such a review should consider and assess the views, concerns and recommendations of involved stakeholders including the Productivity Commission.

Response

The Australian Government supports in principle Recommendation 26 of the Committee.

The Australian Government has commissioned the Productivity Commission to conduct a public inquiry into Australia’s aged care needs over the coming decades. In undertaking the inquiry, the Commission will develop options for further structural reform of the aged care system so it can meet the challenges facing it in coming decades. In particular, the Commission will develop regulatory and funding options for residential and community aged care. The Commission is due to report by the end of April 2011.

Recommendation 27

The committee recommends that the Australian Government expand community aged care funding and services to meet growing demand and expected quality service provision outcomes.

Response

The Australian Government agrees to consider further Recommendation 27 of the Committee.

The Australian Government’s planning framework for aged care services aims to achieve and maintain a national provision level of 113 operational residential places and community care places per 1000 of the population, aged 70 years and over, by June 2011. This framework was designed to keep the growth in the number of Australian Government subsidised aged care places in line with the growth in the aged population. In addition, funding for the Home and Community Care Program is increased each year in recognition of the growing demand for community aged care services.

The Australian Government has commissioned the Productivity Commission to conduct a public inquiry into Australia’s aged care needs over the coming decades. In undertaking the inquiry, the Commission will develop options for further structural reform of the aged care system so it can meet the challenges facing it in coming decades. In particular, the Commission will develop regulatory and funding options for residential and community aged care. The Commission is due to report by the end of April 2011.

Recommendation 28

The committee recommends that the all-encompassing review of the residential and community aged care sector take a client-based approach in order to ensure that its findings are client focused.

Response

The Australian Government supports in principle Recommendation 28 of the Committee.

The Australian Government has commissioned the Productivity Commission to conduct a public inquiry into Australia’s aged care needs over the coming decades. In undertaking the inquiry, the Commission will develop options for further structural reform of the aged care system so it can meet the challenges facing it in coming decades. In particular, the Commission will develop regulatory and funding options for residential and community aged care that are based on business models that reflect the forms of care that older people need and want, minimise the complexity of the aged care system for clients and allow smooth transitions for clients between different types and levels of aged care and between aged, primary, acute, sub-acute, disability services and palliative care services, as need determines. The Commission is due to report by the end of April 2011.

Recommendation 29

The committee recommends that the all-encompassing review of the aged care sector consider options to enable greater flexibility in relation to payments and services directed at providing a client-centred aged care system for Australia.

Response

The Australian Government supports in principle Recommendation 29 of the Committee.

The Australian Government has commissioned the Productivity Commission to conduct a public inquiry into Australia’s aged care needs over the coming decades. In undertaking the inquiry, the Commission will develop options for further structural reform of the aged care system so it can meet the challenges facing it in coming decades. In particular, the Commission will develop regulatory and funding options for residential and community aged care that are based on business models that reflect the forms of care that older people need and want, minimise the complexity of the aged care system for clients and allow smooth transitions for clients between different types and levels of aged care and between aged, primary, acute, sub-acute, disability services and palliative care services, as need determines. The Commission is due to report by the end of April 2011.

Recommendation 30

The committee recommends that the suggested taskforce undertake a review of the current planning ratio for community, high- and low-care places. Drawing on all available demographic and social information, the review is an opportunity to assess the planning ratio in light of growing and diverse demand on aged care services.

Response

The Australian Government supports in principle Recommendation 30 of the Committee.

The Australian Government has commissioned the Productivity Commission to conduct a public inquiry into Australia’s aged care needs over the coming decades. In undertaking the inquiry, the Commission will develop options for further structural reform of the aged care system so it can meet the challenges facing it in coming decades. In particular, the Commission will develop regulatory and funding options for residential and community aged care that are based on business models that reflect the forms of care that older people need and want, minimise the complexity of the aged care system for clients and allow smooth transitions for clients between different types and levels of aged care and between aged, primary, acute, sub-acute, disability services and palliative care services, as need determines. The Commission is due to report by the end of April 2011.

Recommendation 31

The committee recommends that the suggested taskforce review continuity of care as a potential long term solution for the aged care sector.

Response

The Australian Government supports in principle Recommendation 31 of the Committee.

The Australian Government has commissioned the Productivity Commission to conduct a public inquiry into Australia’s aged care needs over the coming decades. In undertaking the inquiry, the Commission will develop options for further structural reform of the aged care system so it can meet the challenges facing it in coming decades. In particular, the Commission will develop regulatory and funding options for residential and community aged care that are based on business models that reflect the forms of care that older people need and want, minimise the complexity of the aged care system for clients and allow smooth transitions for clients between different types and levels of aged care and between aged, primary, acute, sub-acute, disability services and palliative care services, as need determines. The Commission is due to report by the end of April 2011.


Government Response

Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee Inquiry Report on the effectiveness of Airservices Australia’s Management of Aircraft Noise

February 2011 Introduction

On 25 November 2009 the Senate referred the following matter to the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee for inquiry and report by 1 June 2010:

An assessment of the effectiveness of Airservices Australia’s management of aircraft noise under its responsibilities to provide air traffic services and protect the environment from the effects associated with the operation of aircraft for which it has legislative jurisdiction.

In undertaking this inquiry, the committee shall consider whether Airservices Australia:

(a) has conducted an effective, open and informed public consultation strategy with communities affected by aircraft noise;

(b) engages with industry and business stakeholders in an open, informed and reasonable way;

(c) has adequate triggers for public consultation under legislation and whether procedures used by Airservices Australia are compliant with these requirements;

(d) is accountable, as a government-owned corporation, for the conduct of its noise management strategy;

(e) has pursued and established equitable noise-sharing arrangements in meeting its responsibilities to provide air traffic services and to protect the environment from the effects associated with aircraft for which it is responsible;

(f) requires a binding Community Consultation Charter to assist it in consulting fully and openly with communities affected by aircraft noise; and

(g) any other related matter.

The committee subsequently resolved to extend the reporting date to allow for a more detailed examination of the issues.

Although the inquiry was prompted by concerns regarding aircraft noise and flight path changes at Perth Airport, the committee acknowledged the long standing issues associated with the management of aircraft noise at airports around Australia. Accordingly, the committee intended the report to be a broad assessment of the effectiveness of Airservices Australia’s management of aircraft noise, rather than an exclusive analysis of the particular issues associated with a specific airport.

The Australian Government thanks the Committee for its examination of these matters and the recommendations it has presented for consideration.

Managing aircraft noise -Australian Government priorities

Airports are important economic and social assets for Australia. They underpin an air transport network that is responsible annually for over 50 million domestic journeys, 25 million international journeys and the movement of high-value and time-sensitive air freight. They generate and support half a million jobs in local communities through their support for the broader tourism industry. They also support essential medical and emergency services, flight training and other services.

Airports, however, have environmental impacts on local communities, in particular through the generation of aircraft noise. Aircraft noise management requires a careful balance between the protection of amenity of affected residents and recognition of the broader economic and social contribution of aviation activity.

Responsibility for aircraft noise management is shared between a number of key stakeholders including airlines and aircraft operators, Airservices Australia, airports, government regulatory and planning agencies and residents. The Australian Government is committed to playing its part in ensuring that the environmental impacts of aviation, including aircraft noise, are minimised.

In December 2009 the Australian Government released its Aviation White Paper, Flight Path to the Future, Australia’s first ever comprehensive national aviation policy.

The White Paper included over 130 initiatives aimed at maintaining and improving Australia’s aviation safety, supporting growth in the aviation industry, providing for greater planning and investment certainty for the aviation sector and minimising the environmental impacts of aviation activity. In particular, the White Paper confirmed a number of initiatives to ensure the impact of aircraft noise on communities living near airports and under flight paths is addressed as both Australia’s aviation industry and communities continue to grow.

Since the release of the White Paper, the Government has implemented its commitment to regulate to restrict the operations of marginally compliant Chapter 3 aircraft, such as hush-kitted Boeing 727s, where they contribute to unacceptable levels of noise. New services using these outdated aircraft were prohibited at Australia’s major airports from 1 July 2010 and pre-existing services ceased from 1 September 2010.

Consistent with the Aviation White Paper, an Aircraft Noise Ombudsman has been established to independently review noise complaints handling procedures and make recommendations for improvements where necessary and to improve Airservices’ consultation arrangements and the presentation and distribution of aircraft noise-related information to the general public. Mr Ron Brent, the former acting Commonwealth Ombudsman, commenced as the inaugural Aircraft Noise Ombudsman on 1 September 2010.

The Government has a number of ongoing commitments to improve aircraft noise management in Australia. The Government will maintain the existing curfew regime at Sydney, Adelaide, Gold Coast (Coolangatta) and Essendon airports where communities have grown in expectation of these arrangements continuing.

The Government is working with state, territory and local governments to put in place an effective national land use planning regime for land near airports and flight paths in recognition of the key role played by state and local government land-use planning systems in constraining incompatible residential developments in noise-affected areas.

For the first time in a decade, a federal government has implemented a range of new measures to address aircraft noise and is working with communities, other levels of government, airports and stakeholders to continue to show leadership on this issue.

Committee recommendations

The Committee examined a range of issues related to the existing regulatory framework for aircraft noise management in Australia, Airservices Australia’s communications, consultation and complaints handling procedures, the role and governance of the newly established Aircraft Noise Ombudsman, aircraft movement forecasts for major airports, the application of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 to aviation activity and the role of home insulation for the amelioration of aircraft noise.

The Government’s responses to the Committee’s ten recommendations are attached.

Recommendation 1

The committee recommends that Airservices Australia should be a permanent member of all federal airport Community Aviation Consultation Groups.

Response

The Government supports this recommendation.

The Aviation White Paper, which was released prior to the Committee’s inquiry, recognised the view that Community Aviation Consultation Groups could work better if other industry stakeholders, including airlines, Airservices Australia (Airservices) and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, were represented. This is already taking place.

Recommendation 2

The committee recommends that a Community Aviation Advocate position should be funded and established where significant or extensive changes to the management of aircraft noise or airspace are proposed to assist and represent local communities.

Response

The Government notes this recommendation.

However, the Government has already implemented mechanisms to improve community consultation and engagement in relation to airport operations and developments.

The Government requires all airports that are subject to the planning framework in the Airports Act 1996 to establish and lead Community Aviation Consultation Groups. These groups can address planning and development issues and a range of other operational matters, such as aircraft noise, which affect airports’ relations with their neighbours. The Government has released guidelines to assist airports in establishing these consultative groups.

The establishment of a Community Aviation Advocate position would constitute a duplication of the role intended for community representatives within the Community Aviation Consultation Groups.

Further, the Government has strengthened requirements for community consultation regarding major developments at airports through the passage of the Airports Amendment Bill 2010.

The Government has also established the position of Aircraft Noise Ombudsman to improve public information about the impacts of noise from aircraft operations, review community complaints and consultation processes and give communities an additional opportunity to address issues and complaints.

Recommendation 3

The committee recommends that the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman undertakes a review of the Airservices Australia’s Communication and Consultation Protocol to determine the extent to which the protocol:

was developed in consultation with Australian communities and will be subject to regular ongoing review;

clearly articulates the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders and the minimum standards of consultation which communities can anticipate, and

commits Airservices Australia to providing readily available, easily understood and pertinent information (such as environmental noise assessments) to community consultation forums.

The committee recommends that the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman report the findings of this review, together with appropriate recommendations, to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government and to the Australian Parliament and this committee.

Response

The Government notes this recommendation and further notes this is a matter for the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman (ANO).

A core function of the ANO is to monitor and report on the effectiveness of Airservices’ community consultation processes on aircraft noise-related issues (see ANO Charter publicly available on the ANO website).

Given the independent nature of the ANO, any decision to review the Communication and Consultation Protocol and the extent of such a review is a matter for the independent ANO.

The ANO’s discretion to identify and review issues is central to the independence of the ANO office.

The ANO will provide regular reports (including the findings of any reviews) to the Airservices Board and the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, and produce a detailed annual report for publication (and tabling in Parliament as part of the Airservices Annual Report).

Recommendation 4

The committee recommends that an independent review be undertaken of Airservices Australia’s procedures for the lodgement of complaints about aircraft noise and the extent to which complaints data is analysed and disseminated to relevant stakeholders with a view to more effectively managing aircraft noise issues.

Response

The Government notes this recommendation and further notes this is a matter for the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman (ANO).

A core function of the ANO is to review and make recommendations to the Board of Airservices Australia for improvements in aircraft noise enquiry and complaint handling, noise information provision and community consultations (see ANO Charter available on the ANO website). A review of the complaints procedures and noise information dissemination therefore falls within the remit of the ANO.

Given the independent nature of the ANO, any decision to review these matters and the extent of such a review is a matter for the independent ANO.

The Government notes that on 12 November 2010 the ANO announced his first review of the handling of aircraft noise complaints. The terms of reference for the review can be found on the ANO website.

Recommendation 5

The committee recommends that the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman must be established independently of Airservices Australia and report publicly and directly to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government and to the Australian Parliament.

Response

The Government does not support the recommendation to establish the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman (ANO) independent of Airservices Australia.

However, the Government fully supports the independence of the ANO and has ensured the ANO’s role is fully transparent and his activities will be reported publicly.

The Government is committed to confirming that appropriate mechanisms are in place to ensure that the ANO remains independent of Airservices’ management structure.

The ANO is already independent and has the discretion to identify and review issues that fall within the powers and duties described in the ANO’s Charter.

The ANO’s Charter, includes the publishing of an annual report, will provide transparency in the ANO’s operations and accountability.

Recommendation 6

The committee recommends that the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman should provide an annual report of its operations and this should include a description of the actions Airservices Australia has undertaken to implement recommendations and, where appropriate, a description of those instances where appropriate action has not been taken.

Response

The Government supports this recommendation.

As part of its Charter, the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman will produce an annual report for publication and provision to the Airservices Board, the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and the public.

Recommendation 7

The committee recommends that the government revise the current process through which ANEFs are developed to establish an independent body charged with the coordination of the process and the review of the accuracy and reasonableness of the data upon which the forecasts are made.

Response

The Government does not support this recommendation.

The Government encourages airports to take as comprehensive and broad a view of future traffic in developing their Australian Noise Exposure Forecasts (ANEFs) and has supported the adoption by some airports of long range or “ultimate practical capacity” ANEFs which reflect a long-term view of the potential growth of traffic and noise.

The preparation of ANEFs by airports has assisted in reducing inappropriate development from encroachment on airport operations and ameliorating aircraft noise impacts on communities.

The Government has recognised that there is scope to improve the technical processes and independence associated with assessment and scrutiny of ANEFs. Airservices Australia and the Department of Infrastructure and Transport will be considering options to improve these processes.

The Government is committed to working in partnership with State and Territory Governments to improve land management and land use planning around airports and, ultimately, to establish a national land use planning regime near airports and under flight paths. A national regime would be an important step in balancing the interests of the local economy and the effective use of the airport with the preservation of the amenity and safety of surrounding communities.

The Government has established a National Aerodrome Safety Advisory Group (NASAG), including the Australian Government Department of Infrastructure and Transport and all State and Territory transport and planning departments to examine options for the establishment of such a regime. Part of NASAG’s work will involve the development of alternative noise metrics to complement the use of ANEFs in off-airport planning.

Recommendation 8

The committee recommends Airservices Australia review noise levels over affected areas with a view to offering a noise amelioration scheme compensating residents affected by aircraft noise consistent with that of other Australian capital city airports.

Response

The Government notes this recommendation.

This Government has shown leadership in implementing a range of new measures to address aircraft noise, including banning older, noisier jets, putting into place better mechanisms for community consultation and engagement, and working on developing better land use planning around airports. These measures are important steps in balancing the interests of the local economy and the effective use of airports with the preservation of the amenity and safety of surrounding communities.

We will continue to work with communities, other levels of government, airports and stakeholders to address the impacts of aircraft noise.

The Aircraft Noise Insulation Programs implemented in Sydney and Adelaide provided insulation measures for public buildings in the 25 Australian Noise Exposure Index (ANEI), for houses in the 30 ANEI and for voluntary acquisition above the 40 ANEI.

Residences in Perth in the vicinity of the aircraft flight paths introduced as a result of the Western Australian Route Review Project lie well outside these noise contours.

Recommendation 9

The committee recommends that despite the completion of the Western Australian Route Review Project, sufficient grounds exist for the Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts to review the changes to flight paths under paragraph 160(2)(b) of the EPBC Act 1999 in response to stakeholder concerns.

Response

The Government does not support this recommendation.

The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities has considered the application of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) to the Western Australian Route Review Project (WARRP) following the receipt of inquiries from the local community and others. Following inquiries, the Department formed the view that the WARRP did not require referral under Section 160 of the EPBC Act. The Department found that the review process of Airservices ensured that any significant environmental impacts that might arise from their activities would be mitigated.

Recommendation 10

The committee recommends that Airservices Australia be required to have regard to paragraph 160(2)(b) of the EPBC Act 1999 and seek advice from the Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts in advance of major changes to air routes around airports under its jurisdiction.

Response

The Government supports this recommendation.

Section 160(2)(b) of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) requires Airservices Australia and the Office of Airspace Regulation (within the Civil Aviation Safety Authority) to refer the adoption or implementation of a plan for aviation airspace management involving aircraft operations that have, will have or are likely to have a significant impact on the environment to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities for advice.

Airservices is further required under Section 160 of the EPBC Act to take account of advice provided by the Minister.


Senate Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts

Inquiry into the reporting of sports news and the emergence of digital media

Australian Government Response to the Committee’s Report

January 2011

INTRODUCTION

On 12 February 2009, the Senate referred the matter of the reporting of sports news and the emergence of digital media to the Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts for inquiry and report by 14May 2009 (the Senate Inquiry).

The terms of reference for the Senate Inquiry covered:

  • the balance of commercial and public interests in the reporting and broadcasting of sports news
  • the nature of sports news reporting in the digital age, and the effect of new technologies (including video streaming on the internet, archived photo galleries and mobile devices) on the nature of sports news reporting
  • whether and why sporting organisations want digital reporting of sports regulated, and what should be protected by such regulation
  • the appropriate balance between sporting and media organisations’ respective commercial interests in the issue
  • the appropriate balance between regulation and commercial negotiation in ensuring that competing organisations get fair access to sporting events for reporting purposes
  • the appropriate balance between the public’s right to access alternative sources of information using new types of digital media, and the rights of sporting organisations to control or limit access to ensure a fair commercial return or for other reasons
  • should sporting organisations be able to apply frequency limitations to news reports in the digital media
  • the current accreditation processes for journalists and media representatives at sporting events, and the use of accreditation for controlling reporting on events
  • options other than regulation or commercial negotiation (such as industry guidelines for sports and news agencies in sports reporting, dispute resolution mechanisms and codes of practice) to manage sports news to balance commercial interests and public interests.

The Senate Inquiry received 44 submissions, the majority of which were from either sporting or media organisations. On 14 May 2009, the Committee tabled its report to the President of the Senate. The report made five recommendations, which considered: the Independent Sport Panel’s review and recommendations; copyright; media access to sporting events negotiations; and consideration of an industry code to aid in dispute resolution between media and sporting organisations.

BACKGROUND

Review of sport and sporting trends

The Independent Sport Panel (the Panel) was established on 28 August 2008 to investigate and report to the Minister for Sport, the Hon Kate Ellis MP, on measures needed to ensure Australia’s sporting system remains prepared for future challenges, at the elite and grassroots levels. The Minister for Sport released the Panel’s report on 17 November 2009.

The Panel was tasked with a number of priorities, one of which was to identify opportunities to increase and diversify the funding base for sport.

The Panel noted the need for a balance between the profitability of sport and reasonable access to sports media for news reporting. They stated that this balance would need to consider the public’s right to alternative sources of information, and professional sport’s need for control over material in order to ensure a fair commercial return.

The Panel did not believe there was a demonstrated need for government intervention. Instead, the Panel considered it appropriate for sporting and media organisations to reach mutually beneficial arrangements.

Separately, during the course of the Senate Inquiry, the Australian Sports Commission identified problems for smaller sporting organisations with engaging mixed media professionals and creating online content which can attract improved returns.

Copyright legislation and sport

Under the Copyright Act 1968 (the Copyright Act), a sporting event per se is not protected by copyright. Copyright protects original expressions in certain material forms, including literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and other subject matter (sound recordings, cinematograph films, television and sound broadcasts and published editions of works).

Examples of material relating to a sporting event that can be protected by copyright include a film of the event made for the purpose of a television broadcast, the broadcast transmission, photographs taken by a photographer or written text by a spectator to describe or analyse the event. In the latter case, copyright protects original expression in the written text and not the underlying facts or events.

Material recording a sporting event may embody several separate copyrights.

For example, film made of an event may have separate copyrights in the film, in a prepared script, in a sound recording used in the sound track, and in a background photograph included in the film.

The first owner of copyright is normally the author of a work but there are exceptions, including where the author is a journalist employed by a newspaper or magazine or where the author is an employee and the work is made pursuant to a contract of employment. In addition, a future copyright can be assigned by the author. The first owner of a film is the ‘maker’. This means the first owner of copyright in film of a sporting event may be the television broadcaster who arranges for its making. Alternatively, the broadcaster may sell the copyright in film coverage or a broadcast transmission to another party such as a sporting organisation.

Under the Copyright Act, the rights holders are free to decide whether and how to licence copies of the material in which they own the copyright. However, sporting organisations are able to use contracts to place restrictions on a copyright owner on the use of material made at an event through conditions placed on entry to the event. These conditions are usually agreed through accreditation contracts signed between a journalist or editor on behalf of a media organisation and the sporting organisation. As well as dealing with the exploitation of

material made at an event, accreditation agreements also commonly cover such matters as liability in the event of injury, security, and operational health and safety matters.

A media organisation that wishes to use copyright material relating to a sporting event may seek authorisation from the copyright owner. In the absence of authorisation, a media organisation may rely on one of the copyright exceptions in the Copyright Act.

Two particularly relevant exceptions are sections 42 and 103B, which allow ‘fair dealings’ for the purpose of reporting the news. Section 42 states:

(1)   A fair dealing with a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work, or with an adaptation of a literary, dramatic or musical work, does not constitute an infringement of the copyright in the work if:

(a)   it is for the purpose of, or is associated with, the reporting of news in a newspaper, magazine or similar periodical and a sufficient acknowledgement of the work is made; or

(b)   it is for the purpose of, or is associated with, the reporting of news by means of a communication or in a cinematograph film.

Section 103B is a parallel provision which provides for a fair dealing with ‘an audiovisual item’ (meaning a sound recording, a cinematograph film, a sound broadcast or a television broadcast) for the purpose of reporting the news.

In order for either of the above exceptions to apply, the particular dealing with copyright material must be both ‘fair’ and for the purpose of reporting the news.

Some sporting organisations have raised concerns about the use of video highlight packages, and more particularly the availability of online archives of video highlights. While print media in particular has a long history of freely available archival material, sporting organisations have argued that the greater accessibility of online media is problematic.

Legal action is an available remedy for rights holders and exclusive licensees who think their copyright has been infringed. Guidance on whether a particular dealing is likely to be fair or for the purpose of reporting the news can be obtained from legal authority and by examining similar provisions. In addition, industry conventions have been developed to reduce the potential for legal disputes. In its submission, the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) referred to the ‘three by three by three’ rule, which has evolved to suit the needs of television:

   [N]on-rights holders will use no more than three minutes of footage, spaced at intervals of longer than three hours, no more than three times a day ... [T]his convention may be flexible in particular circumstances—such as where an extraordinarily newsworthy sporting event demands more regular reporting.1

   1 SBS submission to the Senate Inquiry on the reporting of sports news and the emergence of digital media, 2009, page 6.

Amendments to Copyright Legislation

In 2002, the Copyright Law Review Committee provided a report titled Copyright and Contract to the then Attorney-General. The report examined the way contracts were being used in the digital environment to set the terms and conditions of access to, and use of, copyright material, and included recommendations suggesting amendments to the Copyright Act. A recommendation was to protect certain exceptions, including sections 42 and 103B, from being modified or excluded by contractual agreements.

A number of submissions to the Senate Inquiry, including those from the Australian Associated Press and Optus, recommended adopting the Copyright Law Review Committee’s recommendation.

Industry codes

A prescribed industry code of conduct was raised as a possible mechanism to reduce conflict between media and sporting organisations over copyright and fair dealing. A prescribed industry code is a code which regulates the conduct of participants in an industry, both in their dealings with each other and towards their consumers. These codes can be either mandatory or voluntary.

Section 51AE of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (the Trade Practices Act) provides for regulations relating to prescribed industry codes. The regulations may:

  • prescribe an industry code, or specified provisions of an industry code; and
  • declare the industry code to be a mandatory industry code or voluntary industry code; and
  • for a voluntary industry code, specify the method by which a corporation agrees to be bound by the code and the method by which it ceases to be bound (by reference to provisions of the code or otherwise).

The policy guidelines for developing a prescribed industry code require that proposals for such a code only proceed if:

  • The code would remedy an identified market failure or promote a social policy objective; and
  • The code would be the most effective means for remedying that market failure or promoting that policy objective; and
  • The benefits of the code to the community as a whole would outweigh any costs; and
  • There are significant and irremediable deficiencies in any existing self-regulatory regime—for example, the code scheme has inadequate industry coverage or the code itself fails to address industry problems; and
  • A systemic enforcement issue exists because there is a history of breaches of any voluntary industry codes; and
  • A range of self-regulatory options and ‘light‐handed’ quasi-regulatory options has been examined and demonstrated to be ineffective.2

There are four mandatory prescribed industry codes declared by regulation under Part IVB of the Trade Practices Act: the Franchising Code of Conduct, the Oil Code, the Horticulture Code of Conduct and the Unit Pricing Code of Conduct. No voluntary prescribed industry codes have been declared under Part IVB of the Trade Practices Act.

Industry codes—enforceability

The enforceability of prescribed industry codes is governed by Part IVB of the Trade Practices Act. Section 51AD of that Act provides that a corporation must not, in trade or commerce, contravene an ‘applicable industry code’. An applicable industry code is one which has been declared by regulations under section 51AE to be either a mandatory or a voluntary prescribed industry code.

Voluntary prescribed industry codes are applicable only to those corporations which have consented to be bound by the code. The code can specify how and to what extent corporations agree to be bound.

A breach of a prescribed industry code is a breach of the Trade Practices Act, which can be prosecuted either privately by affected parties or by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which has responsibility for the enforcement of prescribed industry codes. The Trade Practices Act provides for civil remedies for breaches, including damages (section 82), remedial orders (section 87), and injunctions (section 80). There are no criminal sanctions or civil penalties for breaches of a code.

Developments since the Inquiry

Following the release of the Committee report’s in May 2009, the Government noted a continuation of disputes over access to sporting venues between some media agencies and sporting organisations. To assist in the resolution of these disputes, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy, asked the Chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Mr Graeme Samuel, to chair a series of roundtables between sporting and media organisations.

The roundtables focused on issues surrounding the use of text, photography and data and led to the development of a new voluntary code of practice for the sports news reporting industry.

The Code of Practice for Sports News Reporting (the Code) sets out the rights and responsibilities of sporting and media organisations with regards to text, photography and data. The objective of the Code is to ensure that media organisations are able to access sporting events for the purpose of sports news reporting.

The Code was signed into being from 30 March 2010. A Code Administration Committee was established on that day to manage any issues that may develop, with Mr Kevan Gosper and Mr Mark Hollands appointed as the independent chair and secretary of the Committee respectively.

It is understood that discussions about the Code played an important part in the return of AAP agency photographers to AFL matches for the 2010 season, the first time since 2007.

2 Prescribed Codes of Conduct: Policy guidelines on making industry codes of conduct enforceable under the Trade Practices Act 1974, Treasury, 1999, pages 7-8. Available online from www.treasury.gov.au.

Recommendations and Australian Government Response#

The Australian Government has considered the Committee’s report and provides the following response to the recommendations. The Senate Committee’s recommendations are addressed in turn below.

Recommendation 1

The committee urges the Government to take into account the opportunities and challenges presented by digital media to sports organisations’ current and future revenue prospects and options, and recommends that the current Crawford review of sports pay particular attention to the capacity of sports to invest in digital innovation.

Australian Government Response

The Government notes this recommendation.

In its report, the Independent Sport Panel (the Panel) addressed the impact the digital media was having on the broadcasting of sport in Australia.

The Panel reported:

  • A balance is needed between the ability of sports to protect their commercial rights and generate funds to promote their sport, and reasonable access to content for news reporting for media outlets.
  • There needs to be an appropriate balance between the public’s right to access alternative sources of information using new types of digital media, and the rights of sporting organisations to control or limit access to ensure a fair commercial return.
  • The Panel believes that at this time there is not a demonstrated need for government intervention; it is appropriate for sporting organisations to deal with the various media outlets to attain mutually beneficial arrangements.

The Panel did not make any specific recommendations on the issue.

The Government also notes the Australian Sports Commission’s work in assisting sporting organisations to take full advantage of the digital era’s opportunities. The Australian Sports Commission provides direct support to national sporting organisations by helping them identify commercial opportunities to improve capacity and sustainability, and identify and develop initiatives to increase non-government funding sources.

Recommendation 2

The committee recommends that the Parliament should not amend copyright law to clarify the application of the news ‘fair dealing’ exception, unless future specific case law outcomes appear to warrant it.

Australian Government Response

The Government supports this recommendation.

The Government agrees that there is no compelling evidence at present to indicate that the ‘fair dealing’ exceptions for reporting the news (sections 42 and 103B of the Copyright Act) are inadequate in their present form.

The exceptions are flexible and technology neutral. If made too prescriptive, they may fail to maintain the necessary balance between the rights of copyright owners and the larger public interest in encouraging innovation and access to information. This is particularly important for responding to new forms of digital media.

Recommendation 3

The committee recommends that the government consider and respond to the Copyright Law Review Committee report and its recommendations.

Australian Government Response

The Government does not support this recommendation in the present context.

The report of the Copyright Law Review Committee, Copyright and Contracts, examined the extent to which electronic trade in copyright works and other subject matter was subject to agreements which purported to exclude or modify exceptions to the exclusive rights of copyright owners provided under the Copyright Act, especially online consumer licences. The report is of limited relevance to the matters considered by the Committee, such as accreditation contracts. The Committee noted that it became aware of the report late in its inquiry and did not consider the issues in detail.

Recommendation 4

The committee recommends that stakeholders negotiate media access to sporting events based on the principle that all bona fide journalists, including photojournalists and news agencies, should be able to access sporting events regardless of their technological platform.

Australian Government Response

The Government supports this recommendation.

In order to expedite agreement on access arrangements for all bona fide journalists (including photographers and news agencies), the Government convened a series of roundtables between major news agencies, print media and sporting organisations that made submissions to the Inquiry. These meetings were chaired by the Chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Mr Graeme Samuel.

The roundtables facilitated agreement between media and sporting organisations, and led to the development of the Code of Practice for Sports News Reporting (the Code). The Code

took effect from 30 March 2010. The initial signatories and members of the Code Committee are:

Independent members

Mr Kevan Gosper (independent chair)

Mr Mark Hollands (independent secretary)

Code signatories

Agence France-Presse—Mr Marc Lavine

Australian Associated Press—Ms Emma Cowdroy Australian Football League—Mr Simon Lethlean Australian Rugby Union—Mr Peter Friend

Cricket Australia—Mr Dean Kino

Fairfax Media—Ms Gail Hambly

Getty Images—Mr Stuart Hannagan

National Rugby League—Mr John Brady

News Limited—Ms Creina Chapman

Tennis Australia—Ms Kate Roffey

As recommended by the Senate Committee, the Code specifically protects the right of bona fide media organisations to be present at sporting matches regardless of the eventual platform on which their photography, text and data would be reported. Additionally, the Code prohibits limits on the quantity or timing of news updates.

The Government considers the Code to be a good-faith response from sporting and media organisations that is in accordance with the Recommendation.

Recommendation 5

In the event that these negotiations are unsuccessful, the committee recommends that the Minister consider initiating the process for consideration of a code under Section 51AE of the Trade Practices Act.

Australian Government Response

The Government notes this recommendation and will monitor the performance of the Code of Practice for Sports News Reporting (the Code).

The Code Administration Committee will provide an annual report on the performance of the Code to the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, the Chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and the Minister for Sport. This report will include:

(a)   A statement on the success or otherwise of the Code in managing complaints and any recommended changes to the Code;

(b)   The nature of any disputes/breaches of the Code that occurred during the period;

(c)   The number of disputes/breaches;

(d)   An outline of how disputes were resolved;

(e)   The progress of any disputes which were heard by the mediator but which were not able to be resolved; and

(f)   Any opinion recorded by a mediator in connection with the mediation of a dispute that a party was not acting in good faith.

In addition, in the event that 70 per cent of the Code Administration Committee agree that a signatory has committed a significant and blatant breach of the Code, or a number of breaches of the Code, and mediation has not been able to resolve these breaches, the Committee can choose to inform the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy about their concerns, for referral to the Government and possible further action.