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Wednesday, 19 March 2008
Page: 1220

Senator CARR (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research) (9:54 AM) —Again I will do my best, Senator Macdonald, to answer your question. The bill, as it currently reads—as you quite rightly highlighted—requires the minister to seek advice on these particular matters for coordination reasons, as I have indicated. The view of the government is that we should ensure that there is not duplication. It is the minister’s responsibility to ensure that there is not duplication with existing agencies. That goes to the issue of efficient use of resources. Secondly, given that this body is being established within the context of the COAG arrangements, it is quite important that the Commonwealth agency does not act in a manner inconsistent with the arrangements entered into with other levels of government. So, the principle behind this legislation is that the government does not want to duplicate work that is already being undertaken by other bodies and by other ministers. That is essentially the nub of it.

You asked a question about who takes responsibility for climate change: will it be this minister or that minister? Clearly, under this provision, the minister for infrastructure has responsibility to work with this agency. The processes of government are determined through cabinet: the normal—and I would have thought unexceptional—method of ensuring coordination across government at that level. In an administrative sense, in terms of the agencies, it is important to have the heads of powers outlined in the legislation, as we have done.