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Wednesday, 29 November 2017
Page: 9281

Senator CAROL BROWN (Tasmania) (18:48): Labor does not support these amendments. It does not seem necessary to formalise the role of the senior practitioner further in this bill. We believe it is sufficiently covered by clause 181D. We are confident that this important role will be maintained without this amendment.

In relation to this, I note that we have secured an amendment that strengthens the commissioner's role with regard to restrictive practices. We do not support removing the market oversight role of the commissioner. We think that it's a positive role for the commissioner to have, particularly given the government's inaction on NDIS market development and market failure. It is vital that the government develop their provider-of-last-resort policy. The devastating story of Francis, the young Victorian man in prison because there was no appropriate accommodation available, which was brought to light by the ABC the week before last, clearly demonstrates this. Given the independent commissioner market oversight can only help to ensure that these issues are addressed, the government should do this immediately.

We do not believe it is necessary for the minister's direction to be made disallowable as we believe the limitations on these directions set out in the bill are sufficient. The bill provides that the minister may, by legislative instrument, give directions to the commissioner about the performance of his or her functions and the exercise of his or her powers. A direction given must not relate to a particular individual provider and must not be inconsistent with the act, the regulations or an instrument made under this act. It is standard for such ministerial directions not to be disallowable. We don't support the broadening of the complaints role to include the NDIA and other APS staff, as we believe complaints relating to these staff are adequately and more appropriately dealt with under existing mechanisms.