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Wednesday, 16 March 2005
Page: 38

Senator CHERRY (11:56 AM) —by leave—I move amendments (5) and (7) on sheet 4543:

(5)    Clause 20, page 17 (after line 11), after subclause (1), insert:

      (1A)    In making an appointment in accordance with subsection (1), the Governor-General is to have regard to the merit selection processes described in section 27A.

(7)    Page 22 (after line 22), at the end of Division 2, add:

27A  Procedures for merit selection of ACMA members and associate members

         (1)    The Minister must by writing determine a code of practice for selecting and appointing ACMA members and acting ACMA members which sets out general principles on which selection and appointment is to be made, including but not limited to:

              (a)    merit, including but not limited to appropriate broadcasting and telecommunications industry knowledge;

              (b)    independent scrutiny of appointments;

              (c)    probity;

              (d)    openness and transparency.

         (2)    After determining a code of practice under subsection (1), the Minister must publish the code in the Gazette.

Amendment (5) again follows the recommendations of the Senate report on this bill. It was endorsed, I might add, by all members of the committee—Labor, government and Democrat—and it is simply to make sure that merit selection be used for the appointment of board members. That is something which we have pursued over a long period of time in this place and which I think is very important.

There was a lot of debate and concern in the committee about how to find board members who would cover all the skills which are necessary and needed for this authority to be effective. At some stage the government has to stop appointing its mates and start appointing people on the basis of proper criteria—on the basis of an advertised position and appropriate selection criteria. That is something which the government needs to look at. I commend these amendments to the Senate.