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Wednesday, 29 November 2000
Page: 20131

Senator HERRON (Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs) (3:05 PM) —Yesterday Senator Evans asked a question of me directed to the Minister for Aged Care. I have received an answer from the Minister for Aged Care and I wish to incorporate the answer in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The answer read as follows—


SENATOR EVANS (2:35PM) - My question is directed to Senator Herron, the Minister representing the Minister for Aged Care. Does the minister recall evidence to the community affairs estimates committee that Mr Rob Knowles, the aged care complaints commissioner, is paid $80,000 a year for working three days a week? Can the minister explain why the position of complaints commissioner was not advertised nor any interviews conducted for the position? Can he confirm that Minister Wooldridge organised the appointment of his friend and Victorian colleague to this position?

SENATOR EVANS - Madam President, I ask a supplementary question. I thank the Minister for his answer to a question I did not ask but was going to ask at some time. He did not answer the key question of whether or not the job was advertised or interviews conducted. I would appreciate him giving me the answer to that. Can he also confirm for me that the job description and role for the complaints commissioner were finalised on only 31 August, more than a month after Mr Knowles was appointed to the position and began receiving his $80,000 a year salary. If you could take that on notice too, I would appreciate that, Minister.

SENATOR HERRON - The Minister for Aged Care has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question. The position of Commissioner for Complaints was created to provide an effective vehicle for the oversight and operation of the Aged Care Complaints Resolution Scheme and is part of the progression of the Government's aged care reforms. The role of the Commissioner for Complaints is formally established in the Committee Amendment Principles 2000 (No 1) signed on 31 August 2000.

The announcement of the imminent appointment of Mr Knowles was made on 25 July 2000. The appointment was made on the recommendation of the Minister for Aged Care. The level of remuneration was set by the independent Remuneration Review Tribunal.