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Monday, 13 October 2008
Page: 5822

Senator LUDWIG (Minister for Human Services) (7:36 PM) —I will deal with a couple of issues in this way. The advice I have is that the provisions referred to by the opposition senators relate to ‘the review of Safe Work Australia’s ongoing roles and functions after a period of six years’. It is entirely appropriate that there be a review after six years. I think the opposition had proposed 10 years in some of their legislation when they were in government. We think six years strikes the right balance.

Proposed section 72 of the bill requires the minister to conduct such a review and to report to parliament about the review. This review of Safe Work Australia’s ongoing role and functions in no way derogates from the requirement that Safe Work Australia produce an annual report. Like any other body established by the Australian government, Safe Work Australia will be required to produce an annual report. Proposed section 70 of the bill requires the CEO to prepare an annual report on Safe Work Australia’s operations and to provide a copy of the annual report to the minister, to Safe Work Australia and to the ministerial council. Of course, the annual report will be a public document. As with any annual report, this government has placed no fetter on the contents of the report produced by the CEO of Safe Work Australia. For instance, if Safe Work Australia identify an issue that needs to be raised, they can put it in their annual report—that is one mechanism by which it can be aired. Alternatively, they can write to the minister. There are a whole range of ways. The Financial Management and Accountability Act 1977 provides specifically that a copy of an agency’s financial statements must be included in the agency’s annual report as tabled in parliament. All of those matters ensure that Safe Work Australia will meet its obligations in both an annual report and a review of its ongoing role and functions after six years.