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Friday, 1 September 1989
Page: 785


Senator PETER BAUME(9.53) —I move:

(11) Page 5, clause 12, proposed subsection 32a (4) lines 3 to 6, leave out the proposed subsection.

Honourable senators will note that we have circulated this amendment under the heading `Group 4-General Manager's Duty to Commission, not Minister'. It becomes easier to argue for it in the light of the vote that has just been taken on amendments (3) to (10), the last group of amendments that we have just dealt with, which make it clear that the General Manager is a creature of the Commission, not a creature of the Minister. What I propose in this amendment is that we should leave out proposed subsection 32a (4). That subsection might have been appropriate had the General Manager of the Commission been an agent of the Minister. It might have been partly appropriate, because the proposed subsection reads:

In spite of any policy determined or direction given by the Commission for the purpose of subsection (3), the General Manager shall, when requested by the Minister, provide information or advice to the Minister on any matter specified by the Minister.

I will separate the words `on any matter specified by the Minister' for one moment. Had the General Manager been an appointee of the Minister, there would have been an argument to say that he should have been required to report to the Minister in a general way, which this subsection envisages. But that subsection as it stands would make it clear that the General Manager of the Aboriginal Development Commission (ADC) is in a master/servant relationship-he is a servant of the Minister, not of the ADC. It would be the General Manager's duty really to tell on, to give information about, the very people for whom he works whenever a Minister asked. Such a proposal is a very gross intrusion upon the principle of self-management.

Without making too much of it, I ask honourable senators to direct their minds particularly to the words `on any matter specified by the Minister'. We argued about this matter earlier. I think Senator Coulter took me to task for the rather reductio ad absurdum example I used when I said, `You might be able to ask the General Manager about any information he may have gathered when shopping for the family groceries last week'. As the subsection is drafted, that would be possible. The subsection states that the General Manager must provide information or advice on any matter specified by the Minister. For the same reasons as we identified last night, we think that that is unduly wide. But in any event, in the light of the amendment to which we have just agreed, this subsection is no longer necessary or appropriate. Further, it creates the wrong relationship between the Commission and its chief officer. That is another reason why it should not be agreed to.