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Monday, 11 November 1991
Page: 2854


Senator COLLINS (Minister for Shipping and Aviation Support) (8.13 p.m.) —Now that Senator Alston has provided his clarification—for which I am grateful—the Government has circulated two schedules of amendments. We are now discussing in substance all of one schedule, before we can proceed with the insertion of a definition which we may not need, which relates to the setting up of the community advisory committee.

  The second schedule is a purely mechanical amendment which relates to portability of employees. We move this amendment because this is an opportune time to fix up this small problem with the Bill. If there are going to be amendments now, it might as well be included. The Government's intention—now that Senator Alston has explained the Opposition's position—is to withdraw the entire schedule of amendments relating to setting up the committee.

  In confirming what Senator Alston said, I shall clarify why. On how the Bill is laid out, I said earlier that it would be an extraordinarily incompetent board—to a stage of incompetence that I, frankly, could not imagine—which would not consult. It would have to be unbelievably incompetent in the sense that it knows the provisions of the Bill. The clauses have to be read together in respect of the community plan. Clause 47(1)(e) places a requirement on the board to set out what the community consultative measures will be. The Bill states:

. . . the measures that the Board proposes to adopt to ensure that it is aware of, and responsive to, community needs and opinions (including the needs and opinions of small or newly arrived ethnic groups) . . .

Clause 49, immediately below that, indicates that the Minister may, within 60 days, direct the board on that specific issue of community consultative measures. Clause 49(3) says that the Minister can also, if he wishes, direct the board to set up a community advisory council.

  In respect of the mechanics and the relationships that exist between these organisations and the Minister, it would be quite an extraordinary board that, in drawing up its consultative measures that it proposes to adopt anyway, knowing full well that if the Minister is dissatisfied with it he can direct it to do otherwise, would invite a direction pointing out an inadequacy in those plans.

  I am sure that the consultation that would occur between the board of the SBS and the Minister in drawing up those plans would ensure that, in practice, there would be no need for the Minister to direct the establishment of an advisory board. A sensible board would ensure in pre-consultation that that would not need to happen. We propose to withdraw the whole schedule relating to those amendments.