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Monday, 14 October 1991
Page: 1874


Mr SNOWDON (-Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Transport and Communications)(9.38 p.m.) —-In supporting the Government's propositions, I just point out that the proposed consultative arrangements in the legislation are intended to focus on the desired results of the consultative process rather than the means of achieving them. The Bill imposes on the board a duty to be aware of and responsive to community needs and opinions on matters relevant to the charter and requires the board to work out how to fulfil this duty.

The proposed consultative arrangements are intended to allow flexibility in the consultative process rather than to impose rigid consultative structures which have not worked well elsewhere. Rather than compelling the formation of a community advisory committee, as the Opposition is aware, the Bill allows a committee to be formed either by a direction of the Minister or on the advice of the interim advisory committee. The Bill allows alternative arrangements to be implemented by the board if these are perceived to be a more appropriate way of ensuring that it is aware of and responsive to community opinions.

There are a range of provisions in the Bill to ensure that the SBS board cannot pay lip service to its obligation to consult. For example, the corporate plan must include the board's strategies. These can be rejected by the Minister if they are not satisfactory. The annual report must include a description of how effective the consultative measures have been.

I conclude by saying that it seems a bit frivolous to assert that one should be setting up a consultative board in parallel with the obligations of the board which are clearly set out in the legislation. Whilst it is important that there be consultative processes and that all sections of the community are involved in those processes, to go about them in the way which has been proposed by the Opposition would not only, in my view, be a duplication of the functions of the board, but would undermine the processes which this legislation seeks to put in place.

Clause agreed to.

Remainder of the Bill--by leave--taken as a whole, and agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.