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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Page: 8578


Senator CONROY (VictoriaMinister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity) (10:32): I would like to thank all senators who have contributed to the debate. The establishment of the ACNC is positive and future-focused reform. It is evidence-based structural reform which review after review has recommended. It is reform which the NFP sector strongly supports.

The NFP sector is large and diverse, forming a key part of Australia's community and providing many important services to the disadvantaged and to those in need. As the NFP sector grows it is important to support the sector by smarter and better regulation. The NFP sector has made it clear that it wants an independent regulator with a greater focus on the needs of the sector. The ACNC will be that independent and dedicated regulator. The ACNC will drive a reduction in the regulatory burden on the NFP sector.

With the establishment of the ACNC we will have a platform for a national approach to NFP regulation. As the NFP sector grows it will be vital to support this growth by enabling the sector to consolidate its standing in the community through improved transparency and accountability.

Senator Cormann: More red tape!

Senator CONROY: I note that a senator on the opposite side did interject there. A senator who sits there and votes against the deregulation of the wheat market should not really say anything about regulation. You really should not open up a debate about regulation when you are voting for more regulation in the wheat sector.

Senator Cormann: No, I'm not.

Senator CONROY: Yes you are. We are voting to deregulate the wheat sector and you are saying no.

Senator Cormann: Let's see what you're doing!

Senator CONROY: You are saying no. So do not interject and distract in this debate; your credibility on this issue is zero, Senator Cormann, as you are going to continue to interject.

This government is undertaking forward-thinking and evidence-based reform now to avoid a knee-jerk regulatory response to any issues that may arise as the sector grows.

In conclusion, the Senate will vote shortly on legislation to establish the ACNC. It has taken many years to get to this position, but after numerous reviews and reports, extensive consultation and stakeholder engagement and three parliamentary inquiries into the ACNC bills, the time has come for this important reform. The government wants to support and sustain a vibrant, independent and innovative NFP sector. Those supporting these bills in the Senate today share this aim. I commend the bill to the Senate.