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Thursday, 2 September 2021
Page: 5

Mr TUDGE (AstonMinister for Education and Youth) (09:53): For the benefit of the House, I'm completing a speech started by the Minister for Regional Health, and member for Lyne.

People said they wanted this review, with a broad scope that considered whether the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act was still needed and whether it was meeting its objectives. It included three phases of 22 dedicated weeks of consultation where people were asked what they thought should be looked at in the review, what they thought of potential changes to the CATSI Act and then what they thought of the draft legislation.

The bill will (1) make it easier and less costly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations to register and operate under the CATSI Act, in particular to ensure that regulation is proportional to size and avoids overregulation; (2) promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's economic development through CATSI corporations by providing more flexibility to create business structures and operate more effectively in small communities; (3) increase transparency of corporation operations through improved reporting for members, common-law holders and other stakeholders; (4) enhance support for CATSI corporations that are experiencing difficulties returning to health and, ultimately, the control of members; (5) streamline the process of winding up defunct corporations; (6) enhance the efficacy of operations by increasing corporations' access to modern technology, including for managing their membership bases; and, finally, (7) provide the registrar with expanded powers to enable a graduated, proportionate response to noncompliance.

As said in an earlier speech, this bill comes at a key point in the economic development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations. Since 2015, more than $4.3 billion has been awarded to over 2,380 Indigenous businesses under the Commonwealth Indigenous Procurement Policy. There has been a significant increase in Indigenous Advancement Strategy funding to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations. Measures in this bill will better support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to realise these and other economic and community development opportunities and to take advantage of the momentum within the Indigenous corporate sector. At the same time, the bill will ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations operate within a regulatory framework that supports high standards of corporate governance and financial management and provides the registrar of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations, as the corporate regulator, with appropriate powers to ensure effective regulatory compliance.

Good corporate governance does not happen by chance. It needs a well-designed regulatory infrastructure to support it. This bill improves and strengthens the regulatory architecture so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations can continue to thrive and deliver for the communities that they serve. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations play a central role in delivering services to communities across the country in a way that meets the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. A stronger CATSI Act will reduce disadvantage and improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I commend this bill to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.