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Friday, 1 September 1989
Page: 787


Senator TATE (Minister for Justice)(10.01) —I am extremely attracted to this idea but it is already in the Bill. If honourable senators look at page 2 of the Bill as circulated they will find that it states:

4. Section 8 of the Principal Act is amended:

(a) by inserting after paragraph (e) the following paragraph:

`(ea) when requested by the Minister, to provide information or advice to the Minister on any matter specified by the Minister,';

So I guess we have already covered the capacity of the Commission to provide information. It is not in quite the mandatory terms of proposed new subsection 32a (4) which states in part:

shall, when requested . . . provide information . . .

I do not mind strengthening the clause in that way; I just indicate that, whilst the General Manager is on hand at all times, the Commission meets at irregular intervals. For that reason it might be more difficult to get the information in a timely way in order to assist the Parliament in its deliberations and to ensure the accountability of the Minister. But I can accept that, given Senator Coulter's indications, the proposed new subsection, as drafted, will not be carried. Therefore, if the clause were to read, `The Commission shall, when requested by the Minister, provide information or advice to the Minister about the operation of the Commission or about this Act', we could accept that.