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AUSTRALIAN RESEARCH COUNCIL BILL 2000—SENATE'S AMENDMENTS

insisted on by the Senate;20010305174756The order of the day having been read for the consideration of message No. 544 from the Senate returning the Australian Research Council Bill 2000—

On the motion of Dr Kemp (Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs), the House—

(a) insisted on disagreeing to amendments Nos 3 to 7, 10 and 11MACROBUTTON DPSVariableFieldReplacer insisted on by the Senate; and

(b) disagreed to the amendments made by the Senate in place of amendments Nos 1, 8 and 9 disagreed to by the House,

after debate.

Dr Kemp presented reasons, which were circulated, and are as follows:

Reasons of the House of Representatives for disagreeing to the amendments of the Senate

Amendment in place of Senate Amendment (1)

This amendment extends the objects of the Australian Research Council Bill 2000to include the establishment of the ARC as a body that may, on its own initiative, conduct inquiries into matters related to research and research education and publish the results. It includes a caveat which prevents the ARC from performing this function if it will prejudice the performance of its other functions as set out in subclauses (3)(a)(i), (ii) or (iii).

The Government's 1999 policy statement Knowledge and Innovationclearly set out the role and functions of the ARC as providing strategic policy advice to Government. As well as providing distinct advice on matters requested by the Minister, the strategic planning process outlined in the Bill will provide a new and effective way of developing advice to Government on matters related to research.

There should also not be a separation of `research education' from `matters related to research'. If enacted, the range of matters on which the Minister has the power to seek advice from the ARC would be interpreted as being narrower than the range of matters on which the ARC may conduct inquiries.

There is nothing in the Bill which prevents the Chair of the ARC from drawing the Minister's attention to an issue which should be referred to them for further
investigation and advice. Such an approach ensures that there is regular consultation between the Minister and the primary advisory body on research matters, while maintaining the balance between the ARC's performance of those functions outlined in the Act, to which the Government would accord priority, and those matters which the ARC believe would enhance the Government's decision making ability.

The House notes that the amendment limits the power of the ARC to conduct inquiries on its own initiative, and questions the appropriateness of inserting such a limitation in an `Objects of Act' provision.

Accordingly, the House of Representatives does not accept this amendment.

Amendments in place of Senate Amendments (8) and (9)

Amendment2

This amendment increases the number of members appointed to the Board of the ARC by the Minister by one, requiring that the additional Board member be a higher degree research student.

While recognising the contribution made by higher degree research students to the national research effort, the House believes that the provisions already contained in subclause 14(2) - `The Minister musttry to ensure that the composition of the Board reflects the breadth of academic, industry and community interests in the outcomes of research' - is sufficient. The House notes that there are many groups in the higher education research sector, and elsewhere, who make an equally important contribution to, or have an equally valid interest in, research and that these groups are not all allocated a specific and separate identified place on the Board. Accordingly, the House of Representatives does not accept this amendment.

Amendment 3

This amendment creates a distinction between the manner of appointing the proposed higher degree research student member and the non-student members of the ARC Board.

The House considers the issue of representation for higher degree research students on the proposed ARC Board will be considered in the context of meeting the requirement set out in sub-clause 14(2). Accordingly, the House does not accept this amendment.

Amendment 4

This amendment creates a distinction between the manner of appointing the proposed higher degree research student member and the non-student members of the ARC Board.

The House considers the issue of representation for higher degree research students on the proposed ARC Board will be considered in the context of meeting the requirement set out in sub-clause 14(2). Accordingly, the House does not accept this amendment.


Amendment 5

This amendment sets out the process by which the student member of the ARC Board is to be appointed, requiring the Minister to select one name from a list of at least three names provided by the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA).

The House considers the issue of representation for higher degree research students on the proposed ARC Board will be considered in the context of meeting the requirement set out in sub-clause 14(2). Accordingly, the House does not accept this amendment.

It is also inconsistent with the arrangements for appointing other members of the Board, particularly in that it restricts Ministerial prerogative if none of the names of the list are acceptable. The Minister must rely on CAPA to ensure that the representatives are current higher degree research students, enrolled at an Australian University.

Accordingly, the House of Representatives does not accept this amendment.

On the motion of Dr Kemp, the reasons were adopted.