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Monday, 11 November 1991
Page: 2876

Senator PATTERSON (10.16 p.m.) —I move:

  Clause 70, page 26, line 19, omit "a person", substitute "a member of the Board or a member of the staff of the Authority".

This amendment relates to a matter raised by the Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills. As the Minister for Justice and Consumer Affairs, Senator Tate, said, clause 70 provides that the Australian Hearing Services:

may, by written instrument, delegate to a person all or any of its powers under this or any other Act.

The Committee says in its Alert Digest:

As clause 70 reads, there is no limit as to qualifications or attributes on the person to whom the Authority may delegate any of the powers listed in clause 9, or indeed any of the powers that may be conferred on the Authority by any other Act. Given the extensive range of powers that the Authority is granted by clause 9, the Committee considers that it may be appropriate to limit the classes of person to whom those powers may be delegated.

That is just what this amendment does. The Alert Digest goes on to say—and I think this is quite interesting—that the comments in the explanatory memorandum do not match the Bill itself. The Committee also notes that the explanatory memorandum is misleading in its comments on clause 90.

  Although I am glad that the Minister finally answered the Scrutiny of Bills Committee, it was absolutely absurd to say that the legislation would be amended next session. All it takes is a small effort on the part of the Minister. I hope that the advisers here who are associated with that Minister will learn that it is very easy to move an amendment and to respond to the Scrutiny of Bills Committee. That Committee usually makes comment only after considerable consideration by members of all parties who have looked at a Bill in detail. It does not deal with these matters in a frivolous manner. Usually it is a very simple matter to move amendments. I would ask Senator Tate to draw to the Minister's attention how simply this could be done instead of leaving the matter hanging around until next session. As I believe the Democrats and the Government will support the amendment, I have no need to comment any further.