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Monday, 6 December 1976
Page: 3309

Mr LIONEL BOWEN (Kingsford) (Smith) - The Opposition does not object to this amendment and can fully understand the need for it. I have not had a chance to discuss this matter with the Attorney-General (Mr Ellicott). The amendment, in part, refers to 'action that a person employed in the Public Service of the N.T. ' may take. The interpretation clause- clause 3 of the Bill- excludes action taken by the staffs of the House of Representatives, the Senate, other Parliamentary departments, and also the Public Service of the Northern Territory. One wonders why the proposed new paragraph could not have been included in that clause by adding the words other than action taken by a person'. I believe

Ombudsman Bill6 December 1976 REPRESENTATIVES 3309 that the amendment has been added to clause 5 because Senator Kilgariff suggested that that course of action be adopted.

The point I make is that administrative actions are the subject of the Ombudsman's purview, as set out in clause 5(1). I invite the AttorneyGeneral to address his mind to the fact that no objection is proposed at all to any action being excluded if it relates to the employment of that person as a member of the Legislative Assembly for the Northern Territory. But should such a person have power to take action other than administrative action? One would think that that should be the subject of some investigation if it falls within the ambit of clause 5(1).

I do not wish to press this matter any further other than to mention it briefly. I would have thought that it would have been better to exclude this category under the interpretation of 'Department' in clause 3 rather than to amend clause 5 to include 'an action', which is not denned. In my view such administrative action should not be excluded unless it is action by a person employed as a member of the staff of the Legislative Assembly. In other words, whatever the powers of the staff of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly they are not necessarily the same as those of the staff of the Department of the House of Representatives or the Department of the Senate. Acts of those officers are excluded; but should we have a wider ambit for the Northern Territory? One may not want to exclude all those actions. I only mention this point briefly. I have no doubt that the Attorney-General will address his mind to this aspect if he has not already done so. The Opposition still wants the administrative actions of the staff to be within the ambit of clause 5(1).

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