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Wednesday, 26 September 2001
Page: 31585

Mr WILLIAMS (Attorney-General) (10:52 AM) —in reply—I thank the member for Melbourne and the member for Sturt for their contributions to the debate on the Abolition of Compulsory Age Retirement (Statutory Officeholders) Bill 2001 and I thank the opposition for supporting it. As I outlined in my second reading speech to the House, the bill if passed will abolish provisions in various acts that specify compulsory age retirement limits for statutory office holders. At the moment, these provisions prevent the appointment of a person over a certain age, commonly 65 years, or for a term that would continue beyond a certain age. These are important amendments that will greatly enhance the ability of a wide variety of statutory appointees to serve the Australian community beyond the usual retirement age. They will also widen the pool of people that the government can consider for appointment to statutory positions.

The bill will assist in combating negative stereotypes about the ability of older Australians to contribute to the work force and the community. It will also remove archaic and artificial boundaries between work and retirement. It will provide greater flexibility and choice not only to the government in selecting potential appointees to statutory positions but also to office holders themselves by allowing them to choose their own retirement age. The amendments complement the removal of compulsory age retirement in the Australian Public Service made by this government when it enacted the Public Service Act 1999.

It will also remove differences between statutory office holders and provide greater consistency in the appointment process. As the bill makes clear, it will not affect the existing term of statutory office holders appointed before the bill commences. It will, however, remove any restrictions on their reappointment based on their age when their current term expires. Furthermore, the bill does not propose to amend arrangements relating to federal judicial appointments, Australian Defence Force personnel or tenured positions where a person is appointed until a specified age. The bill is an indication of the importance that the government places on the contribution that older Australians can offer beyond their usual retirement age. I commend the bill to the Main Committee.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Ordered that the bill be reported to the House without amendment.