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Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (Forest Practices) Bill 2002
2002

2002

 

The Parliament of the

Commonwealth of Australia

 

THE SENATE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Presented and read a first time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (Forest Practices) Bill 2002

 

No.      , 2002

 

 

(Senator Brown)

 

 

 

A Bill for an Act to provide for a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry in relation to Forestry Tasmania, and for related purposes

   

   

   



Contents

Part 1—Preliminary                                                                                                              1

1............ Short title............................................................................................. 1

2............ Commencement................................................................................... 1

3............ Interpretation....................................................................................... 2

Part 2—Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry                                                   3

Division 1—Establishment and functions of the Commission                  3

4............ Establishment of Commission............................................................. 3

5............ Constitution and nomination of Commission members....................... 3

6............ Presiding at meetings.......................................................................... 4

7............ Filling of vacancies............................................................................. 4

8............ Functions............................................................................................ 4

9............ Conduct of proceedings...................................................................... 4

10.......... Report to Parliament............................................................................ 5

11.......... Decision of questions.......................................................................... 5

Division 2—Powers of the Commission                                                               6

12.......... Power to summon witnesses and take evidence.................................. 6

13.......... Hearings.............................................................................................. 6

14.......... Powers of Commission in relation to documents................................ 6

Division 3—Administrative provisions                                                                8

15.......... Remuneration and allowances............................................................. 8

16.......... Staff of the Commission..................................................................... 8

17.......... Protection of members etc................................................................... 8

18.......... Legal and financial assistance.............................................................. 9

19.......... Reimbursement of expenses of witnesses........................................... 9

Part 3—Offences                                                                                                                   10

20.......... Failure of witnesses to attend or produce documents........................ 10

21.......... Penalty for refusing to be sworn or give evidence............................ 10

22.......... Acts or omissions on different days to constitute separate offences.. 11

23.......... False or misleading evidence............................................................. 11

24.......... Intimidation or dismissal of witness.................................................. 11

25.......... Preventing witness from attending.................................................... 11

26.......... Bribery of witness............................................................................. 12

27.......... Fraud on witness............................................................................... 12

28.......... Contempt of Commission................................................................. 12

Part 4—Miscellaneous                                                                                                        14

29.......... Appropriation.................................................................................... 14

30.......... Regulations....................................................................................... 14

Schedule                                                                                                                              15

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Bill for an Act to provide for a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry in relation to Forestry Tasmania, and for related purposes

The Parliament of Australia enacts:



Schedule

   

Section 8(1)

Terms of Reference of the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry in relation to Forestry Tasmania

                   In accordance with the constitutional authority of the Commonwealth in relation to Regional Forestry Agreements and the licensing and export of forestry products, the Commission is to investigate the following:

             (1)  The financial management of Forestry Tasmania, including:

                     (a)  the reasons for its poor financial performance;

                     (b)  the extent of the ongoing benefit it is receiving from public funding through the Regional Forest Agreement, Helsham package, Commonwealth softwood loans write-off, write-off of accumulated debt in 1991 and any other sources;

                     (c)  the terms of and reasons for the recent $14 million borrowing which greatly exceeds borrowing disclosed in the annual reports for the five years to 1999/2000;

                     (d)  assessment of the financial performance of each major activity, including wood production in native forests, wood production in plantations and non-wood production activities;

                     (e)  the appropriateness of the level of remuneration of senior management and the board;

                      (f)  current employment practices, including the use of casual and contract labour and replacement of awards with workplace agreements;

                     (g)  the performance of the Tassie Trees Trust, whether its prospectuses meet the standards required of prospectuses covered by corporations laws, and whether it is likely to achieve the returns projected in its prospectuses.

             (2)  The independence, adequacy and effectiveness of the regulatory system and its enforcement with particular attention to:

                     (a)  the relationships between Forestry Tasmania, the Forest Practices Board, the Forest Practices Advisory Council, Private Forests Tasmania, the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania, Timber Communities Australia Inc. (Tasmanian Branch) and Gunns Limited, Boral Limited, North Limited and any other relevant entities or individuals;

                     (b)  the nature and extent of conflicts of interest that may influence or be perceived to influence individuals, companies or agencies in the system of scientific assessment and advice, regulation and enforcement;

                     (c)  the remuneration, appointment processes and qualifications of Forest Practices Board staff, Forest Practices Officers and members of the Forest Practices Advisory Council;

                     (d)  whether the Forest Practices Code is capable of providing reasonable protection to the environment, including whether it is capable of being enforced, whether penalties are adequate, and whether it is audited appropriately;

                     (e)  whether the Forest Practices Code is administered in an independent, transparent and accountable manner, including whether complaints about alleged breaches have been ignored, suppressed, not adequately addressed or dealt with improperly;

                      (f)  whether the allocation of logs, licences, coupes and other rights, and the grading and pricing of logs, is implemented in an independent, transparent and accountable manner and particularly whether small operators are discriminated against;

                     (g)  the adequacy of auditing and accounting measures used to establish whether Forestry Tasmania and its codes of practice conform to environmental best practice.

             (3)  The extent to which Forestry Tasmania is exempt from state and federal legislation and whether this is appropriate.

             (4)  Whether a culture of cronyism is compromising the independence and integrity of the management of Tasmania’s forests and wood products industry, including:

                     (a)  the relationships between Forestry Tasmania, the Forest Practices Board, the Forest Practices Advisory Council, Private Forests Tasmania, the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania, Timber Communities Australia Inc. (Tasmanian Branch), Gunns Limited, the Department of State Development, the Department of Infrastructure Energy and Resources, the Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment and any other relevant entities or individuals;

                     (b)  the nature and extent of conflicts of interest that may influence or be perceived to influence individuals, companies or agencies in the performance of their roles;

                     (c)  whether and how influences of a political nature have been brought to bear on the management of Tasmania’s forests and wood products industry.

             (5)  Any other matters that are relevant and necessary to make recommendations about the future management of Tasmania’s forests and wood products industry.

             (6)  Taking into account findings under terms of reference (1) to (5), to recommend any measures, including legislative, institutional and administrative changes, necessary to improve the integrity, independence, accountability and good management of Tasmania’s forests and wood products industry.