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Part 5—Australian Multicultural Commission

Part 5 Australian Multicultural Commission

Division 1 Establishment and functions

15   Australian Multicultural Commission

             (1)  The Australian Multicultural Commission is established.

             (2)  For the purposes of the finance law (within the meaning of the PGPA Act):

                     (a)  the Commission is a listed entity; and

                     (b)  the Chair is the accountable authority of the Commission; and

                     (c)  the following persons are officials of the Commission:

                              (i)  the Chair;

                             (ii)  the other members;

                            (iii)  the staff of the Commission referred to in section 23; and

                     (d)  the purposes of the Commission include the functions of the Commission referred to in section 16.

16   Functions of the Commission

             (1)  The functions of the Commission are:

                     (a)  to ensure that the objects of this Act are met to the maximum extent that is practicable; and

                     (b)  to provide a single coordination point for providing integrated responses to the government to issues associated with cultural diversity; and

                     (c)  to research, report on and advise the Minister on systemic community issues relating to the objectives of the Commission:

                              (i)  that are identified through community consultation; or

                             (ii)  that relate to the adequacy of government services, support or service delivery for diverse communities; and

                     (d)  to investigate, report and make recommendations to the Minister on any matter referred to it by the Minister; and

                     (e)  to advise the Minister on factors inhibiting the development of harmonious community relations and on barriers to the participation of Australia’s diverse communities in the social, cultural, economic and political life of Australia; and

                      (f)  to advise, and make recommendations to, the Australian Human Rights Commission on matters relating to discrimination and racial vilification, and to refer matters relating to discrimination and racial vilification to that Commission; and

                     (g)  to undertake systematic and wide-ranging consultation with bodies and people to:

                              (i)  determine the needs of Australia’s diverse communities; and

                             (ii)  promote the objectives of the Commission; and

                     (h)  to develop and maintain partnerships between community organisations which provide assistance, support and service delivery for diverse communities; and

                      (i)  to develop and maintain harmonious community relations between all relevant groups in the context of Australia’s diverse communities; and

                      (j)  to perform any other function conferred on it by this Act; and

                     (k)  to do anything incidental to any of the preceding functions.

17   General powers of the Commission

             (1)  The Commission has power to do everything necessary or convenient to be done for, or in connection with, the performance of its functions.

             (2)  The Chair may enter into contracts or agreements on behalf of the Commission for, or in connection with, carrying out the objectives or performing the functions of the Commission.

18   General policy guidelines for the Commission

             (1)  In performing its functions, the Commission must have regard to the need:

                     (a)  to promote Australia’s multicultural policy; and

                     (b)  for Australia to meet its international obligations and commitments that are in respect of, or that relate to, multiculturalism.

             (2)  In performing its functions, the Commission must also have regard to any other matters notified to it in writing by the Minister.

19   Flexibility and range of working methods in performance of Commission’s functions

                   In performing its functions, the Commission:

                     (a)  is not required to act in a formal manner; and

                     (b)  may inform itself on any matter in any way it thinks fit; and

                     (c)  may consult with anyone it thinks fit; and

                     (d)  may receive written or oral information or submissions; and

                     (e)  may hold public seminars, conduct workshops and establish working groups and task forces.

Division 2 Constitution and operation

20   Members of the Commission

             (1)  The Commission consists of:

                     (a)  a Chair; and

                     (b)  a Deputy Chair; and

                     (c)  a member who is a youth representative, being a person who is aged at least 18 years but no more than 24 years at the time of his or her appointment; and

                     (d)  a member who is a representative of a community organisation; and

                     (e)  eight other members.

             (2)  Members are to be appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Minister.

             (3)  In recommending a person for appointment as a member, the Minister must have regard to the desirability of having people of diverse backgrounds on the Commission, as well as people of different occupational and social backgrounds, including people who normally reside in different parts of Australia.

             (4)  The following persons may not be recommended for appointment as a member:

                     (a)  a member of a Parliament of Australia or of a State or Territory;

                     (b)  a Councillor;

                     (c)  an electorate officer;

                     (d)  a Ministerial officer;

                     (e)  a Parliamentary adviser.

             (5)  A member of the Commission:

                     (a)  holds office for the term, not exceeding 4 years, that is specified in his or her instrument of appointment; and

                     (b)  must be appointed on a part-time basis unless appointed as the Chair; and

                     (c)  is eligible for re-appointment to a second or third term; and

                     (d)  may be removed from office at any time by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Minister.

             (6)  A member:

                     (a)  holds office on the terms and conditions specified in his or her instrument of appointment; and

                     (b)  may resign from office by delivering a signed letter of resignation to the Minister.

             (7)  The office of a member becomes vacant if he or she fails, without giving prior notice to the Chair, to attend 3 consecutive meetings of the Commission of which he or she has received notice.

21   Validity of decisions

                   An act or decision of the Commission is not invalid merely because of:

                     (a)  a defect or irregularity in, or in connection with, the appointment of a member of the Commission; or

                     (b)  a vacancy in the membership of the Commission.

22   Chair of the Commission

             (1)  The Governor-General, on the recommendation of the Minister, must appoint one of the members of the Commission to be the Chair of the Commission.

             (2)  The Governor-General must appoint the Chair to act on a full-time basis.

             (3)  The Chair must not directly or indirectly engage in any other paid employment or carry on a business, profession or trade without the consent of the Minister.

23   Staff of the Commission

             (1)  The staff necessary to assist the Commission shall be persons engaged under the Public Service Act 1999 .

             (2)  For the purposes of the Public Service Act 1999 :

                     (a)  the Chair and the APS employees assisting the Chair together constitute a Statutory Agency; and

                     (b)  the Chair is the head of that Statutory Agency.

24   Deputy Chair of the Commission

                   The Governor-General, on the recommendation of the Minister, must appoint one of the members of the Commission to be the Deputy Chair of the Commission.

25   Acting Chair of the Commission

             (1)  The Minister may appoint a member of the Commission to act as the Chair during a vacancy in the office of the Chair.

             (2)  An Acting Chair is appointed for the period, not exceeding 3 months, specified in his or her instrument of appointment as the Acting Chair.

             (3)  An Acting Chair is subject to the terms and conditions specified in his or her instrument of appointment as the Acting Chair.

26   When the Commission is to meet

             (1)  The Chair must ensure that there are at least 6 meetings of the Commission each year.

             (2)  The dates of meeting are to be determined by the Chair.

             (3)  If more than half of the members of the Commission request in writing for a meeting to be held on a particular date, the Chair must organise a meeting to be held on that date. The meeting must be organised at least 3 days prior to that date .

27   Procedure at meetings

             (1)  The Chair or, in his or her absence, the Deputy Chair or, in the absence of both the Chair and Deputy Chair, a member of the Commission elected by the members present at the meeting, must preside at a meeting of the Commission.

             (2)  The quorum for a meeting of the Commission is half of the members for the time being.

             (3)  A question arising at a meeting of the Commission is determined by a majority of the votes of the members present and voting on the question.

             (4)  The person presiding at a meeting has a deliberative vote and, in the event of an equal number of votes on any question, a second or casting vote.

             (5)  The person presiding at a meeting must ensure that the decisions made at the meeting are recorded in writing.

             (6)  The Chair must ensure that a copy of any such decisions are given to the Minister within 14 days after the meeting.

             (7)  Subject to this Act, the Commission may regulate its own procedure.

Division 3 Inquiries

28   Matters in relation to which the Commission may conduct inquiries

                   The Commission may conduct inquiries into any of the following:

                     (a)  whether Commonwealth conduct is contrary to Australia’s multicultural policy;

                     (b)  the laws that should be made by the Commonwealth Parliament:

                              (i)  in relation to a matter covered by the objects of this Act; or

                             (ii)  to better promote Australia’s multicultural policy;

                     (c)  any action that should be taken by the Commonwealth, or by the Government of a Territory:

                              (i)  in relation to a matter covered by the objects of this Act; or

                             (ii)  to better promote Australia’s multicultural policy;

                     (d)  any other action that should be taken by Australia to better comply with Australia’s multicultural policy.

29   Commission not to inquire into conduct of intelligence agencies

                   The Commission must not conduct an inquiry into conduct:

                     (a)  engaged in by an intelligence agency; or

                     (b)  that is otherwise related to the activities of an intelligence agency.

30   Main purpose of inquiry is to make recommendations

                   The main purpose of an inquiry is for the Commission:

                     (a)  to consider whether any recommendations should be made in relation to the matter that is the subject of the inquiry; and

                     (b)  if the Commission considers that recommendations should be made—to include those recommendations in a report to the Minister under section 33.

31   Initiating inquiries

Commission may initiate inquiries

             (1)  The Commission may, on its own initiative, conduct an inquiry into a particular matter covered by section 28 if the Commission considers that conducting the inquiry:

                     (a)  will or may advance the objects of this Act; and

                     (b)  is in the public interest.

Minister may initiate inquiries

             (2)  The Minister may, in writing, request the Commission to conduct an inquiry into a particular matter covered by section 28 if the Minister considers that conducting the inquiry:

                     (a)  will or may advance the objects of this Act; and

                     (b)  is in the public interest.

The Commission must comply with the request.

             (3)  A request under subsection (2) is not a legislative instrument.

32   Commission’s general discretion as to how to conduct inquiries

             (1)  The Commission may conduct an inquiry in any way that the Commission considers appropriate.

             (2)  The Commission is not bound by rules of evidence when conducting an inquiry.

33   Commission to report to Minister on inquiry

             (1)  As soon as practicable after completing an inquiry, the Commission must give the Minister a written report on the inquiry.

             (2)  Without limiting the generality of subsection (1), the report must include any recommendations that the Commission considers should be made in relation to the matter that was the subject of the inquiry.

34   Minister to table report on inquiry in Parliament

             (1)  As soon as practicable after receiving a written report on an inquiry, the Minister must table the report in each House of Parliament.

             (2)  Within 60 days of receiving the report, the Minister must publish the report on the internet.