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Address at launch of the Administrative Review Council's 49th Report, Canberra.

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Launch of the

Administrative Review Council ’s 49 th Report

Attorney -General’s Department Library

Robert Garran Offices , Canberra

Friday 28 November 2008 , 10.05am


[Acknowledgements ]

• First , may I acknowledge the traditional owners

of t he land we meet on - and pay my respects to

their elders, both past and present.

[Other Acknowl edgements ]

• Ms Jillian Segal AM , ARC President

• Mr Roger Wilkins AO, Secretary ,

Attorney -General’s Department

• ARC Members

• Ladies and gentlemen

Launch of ARC Report Friday 28 November 2008


[Introduction ]

1. It’s a great pleasure to join you for this event .

And it’s also a good opportunity for me to thank

the Council for all the work it has been doing .

2. I’d particularly like to note the report on coercive

information gathering powers , released ea rlier

this year .

And the best practice guides for administrative

decision makers released last year.

3. I understand there has been a high demand for

these resources across Government.

[The Latest Report ]

4. This latest report , Administrative Accountability

in Business Areas Subject to Complex and

Specific Regulation, achieves the same high


This report is particularly important in the

current climate. And I’m pleased to see that

accountability and openness are key elements of

it - because they’re als o key elements of the

Government’s st rategy to improve

Launch of ARC Report Friday 28 November 2008


administration. For this we need not only

balanced regulations, but effective and sensible


5. It’s important and timely to have a framework of

guiding principles for government agencies,

indust ry bodies and others involved in the

development, application and review of business

rules. The inclusion of these other bodies is

important given the healthy trend towards self

co -regulation.

And this is what the report provides.

6. The report importantly no tes that one size does

not necessarily fit all.

In terms of accountability mechanisms, what will

work in one regula tory environment will not

necessarily be effective in another.

Essentially the Report addresses the complex

issue of interaction between ad ministrative law

and business regulation - and if we get

interaction right, it will mean fewer cases before

the AAT and other tri bunals.

Launch of ARC Report Friday 28 November 2008


7. The report recognises the significance of business

regulatory bodies issuing guidelines and

conducting effective consul tation processes , as a

way to promote understanding of new and

complex rules of business .

8. The Coun cil propose s a set of guidelines to assist

the work of regulatory agencies in ensuring

responsible and practical maintenance of

Australia’s business systems.

9. I think the report’s ‘ARC pyramid’ of business

rules will be particularly helpful in developing

and traversing the regulatory and accountability


10. As mentioned, t he Council considers

accountability for regulatory decisions not only

by government agencies and industry bodies , but

also other non -government entities engaged in co

and self regulation.

11. And it also covers decisions made with reference

to both ‘black letter’ law and ‘soft law’ , in the

form of guidelines and codes .

This soft law can often be subterranean -

Launch of ARC Report Friday 28 November 2008


comprehended b y a select few ‘”in the know”.

This is therefore an important step towards

making sure that such ‘soft law’ materials are

also subject to standards of accountability .

[Administrative Law V alues ]

12. Another plus for this repor t is its emphasis that

lawfulness, fairness, rationality, openness and

efficiency should not be limited to decisions by

government officer s.

Bureaucrats exist everywhere . The promotion of

these va lues will hopefully turn those bureaucrats

into facilitators .

13. So w here individual rights are affected, the

report proposes that even if the dec ision maker is

a private entity, this should not be a limiting

factor on good decision making .

14. Indeed, t he report aims to ensure that decision

makers within government busin ess regulation

systems (as broadly described) understand and

accept the importance of administrative law

Launch of ARC Report Friday 28 November 2008


requirements. Not for its own sake but because it

is a sound and sensible practice.

15. It underlines the importance of ensuring that

business regimes rec ognise good quality primary

decision making as a means to reduce disputes

about decisions and the need for access to courts

and tribunals - avoiding an additional burden on

taxpayers, business and on the regulatory body.

[Merits Review ]

16. But in terms ackno wledging the reality that all

disputes can be avoided , the report notes the

adaptability of the AAT, and the expertise it can

bring to the review of complex regulatory

decisions in business areas.

The report also confirms and draws in the

approach to merit s review previously promoted

by the Council in its widely used publication

What Decisions should be subject to Merits


[Conclusion ]

Launch of ARC Report Friday 28 November 2008


17. The report makes a useful contribution to assist

the Government as it mov es forward with its

policy program. It will also be of great assistance

to business and business regulators.

18. The guidelines will be a useful point of reference

in future work towards improving administrative

decision making and where necessary

streamlining access to administrative and judicial

revi ew .

19. So congratulations to everyone involved in this

latest work.

I’m sure it will be another very successful


20. It’s now my pleasure to officially launch the

report - Administrative Accountability in Business

Areas Subject to Complex and Specific R egulation .