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SUPERANNUATION—PRODUCTIVITY COMMISSION REPORT—ORDER FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENT

Senator Cormann, pursuant to notice of motion not objected to as a formal motion, moved general business notice of motion no. 162—That the Senate—

 (a) notes:

  (i) the response by the Chairman of the Productivity Commission to an order of the Senate seeking a report by the Commission on the design of a process for the selection and ongoing review of the superannuation funds, which was agreed to by the Senate on 16 November 2010,

  (ii) that in a letter to the Clerk of the Senate the Chairman of the Productivity Commission expressed the view that in his understanding `such a report would need to be commissioned by the Assistant Treasurer',

  (iii) that like the Australian Information Commissioner, the Chairman of the Productivity Commission appears to have confused a legitimate order of a House of the Australian Parliament for the production of a document, with a request to perform a specific function under his enabling statute, and

  (iv) with increasing concern this recently emerging trend of statutory agencies established by the Parliament failing to understand valid orders of the Senate and thereby threatening to interfere with the free exercise by the Senate of its authority and functions;

 (b) advises the Productivity Commissioner as follows:

  (i) that under section 49 of the Constitution the Senate has the undisputed power to order the production of documents necessary for its information, a power which encompasses documents already in existence and documents required to be created for the purpose of complying with the order,

  (ii) this power may be modified only by express statutory declaration, as required by section 49 of the Constitution,

  (iii) nothing in the Productivity Commission Act 1998 is expressed as a declaration for the purpose of section 49 that would have the effect of limiting the exercise of the power by the Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament in respect of the Productivity Commission,

  (iv) multiple resolutions of the Senate affirm the principle that information may be withheld from it only following consideration by the Senate of a properly founded claim of public interest immunity, and

  (v) the Senate has on numerous occasions exercised its power to require statutory agencies and officers to produce information in response to orders; and

 (c) again orders the Productivity Commission to provide the report requested by the Senate consistent with its order agreed to on 16 November 2010.

Question put and passed.