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Australian Tourist Commission Amendment Bill 1999



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Bills Digest No. 27  1999-2000

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Australian Tourist Commission Amendment Bill 1999

Warning:

This Digest was prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments. This Digest does not have any official le gal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.

Contents

 

Passage History

Australian To urist Commission Amendment Bill 1999

Date Introduced: 23 June 1999

House: House of Representatives

Portfolio: Sport and Tourism

Commencement: Royal Assent

Purpose

To amend the objects of the Australian Tourist Commission under the Australian Tourist Commission Act 1987.  The Commission will be required to have regard to the principles of ecologically sustainable development and the social impact of international tourism in Australia.

Background

The Australian Tourist Commission Act 1987 (ATC Act) ensures the continuation of the Australian Tourist Commission (the Commission), which was established by an earlier Act.(1) The main objects of the Commission are set out in section 6 of the ATC Act:

  • to increase the number of overseas visitors to Australia
  • to maximise the benefits to Australia from overseas visitors, and
  • to ensure that Australia is protected from adverse environmental and social impacts of international tourism. 

In 1997, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) undertook a performance audit of the Commission.  The Report, titled Aspects of Corporate Governance - The Australian Tourist Commission , concluded that the Commission:

is currently unable to demonstrate that it is fully meeting all of its statutory objectives; this applies particularly to the objective of ensuring 'that Australia is protected from adverse environmental and social impacts of tourism…'(2)

 

 

Although the ANAO Report acknowledged that the Commission has no regulatory powers or authority to ensure the protection of the environment and society from the impact of tourism, it stated that:

However, the ATC does have a statutory responsibility in this area which it can perform, that is to 'closely monitor and report the effects of international tourism on Australia's natural environment and society'.(3)

ANAO concluded that one of the main challenges for the Commission was to ensure that strategies reflecting this objective were implemented in its planning framework.(4)

In its Review of the Auditor-General's Reports 1997-98 for the First Quarter, the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit noted that:

The Committee appreciates that the lack of regulatory power is hampering the ATC from meeting this objective.  The Committee believes that the ATC's ability will be strengthened by the rewriting of this clause in the Australian Tourist Commission Act 1987 .(5)

The Committee recommended that the Commission's Board should propose to the Minister for Sport and Tourism that the statutory objective in paragraph 6(c) of the ATC Act should be amended to clarify the Commission's role.(6) The Australian Tourism Commission Amendment Bill 1999 implements this recommendation.

Main Provisions

Item 1 of Schedule 1 amends paragraph 6(c) of the ATC Act so that the Commission will not be required to ensure that Australia is protected from adverse environmental and social impacts of international tourism.  Proposed paragraph 6(c) requires the Commission to work with other agencies to meet its objects.  The Commission will be required to have regard to the principles of ecologically sustainable development and the social impacts of international tourism in Australia.

The definition of ecologically sustainable development adopted is set out in subsection 21(3) of the Natural Heritage Trust Act 1997 and includes the following core objectives:

  • to enhance individual and community well-being and welfare by following a path of economic development that safeguards the welfare of future generations
  • to provide for equity within and between generations
  • to protect biological diversity and maintain essential ecological processes and life-support systems.

Concluding Comments

The Productivity Commis sion in a recent report, Implementation of Ecologically Sustainable Development by Commonwealth Departments and Agencies - Draft Report , identified poor coordination between government agencies as an impediment to the implementation of the principles of ecologically sustainable development.(7) The amended objectives should help to overcome any coordination failure in relation to the work of the Australian Tourist Commission.

Endnotes

  1. Section 5 of the Australian Tourist Commission Act 1987.
  2. Aspects of Corpor ate Governance - The Australian Tourist Commission, Australian National Audit Office, 1997, p. xv. 
  3. Ibid p. 30.
  4. Ibid. p. 20.
  5. Review of the Auditor-General's Reports 1997-98 for the First Quarter, Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit, Report 361, June 1998, p. 32.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Implementation of Ecologically Sustainable Development by Commonwealth Departments and Agencies - Draft Report, Productivity Commission, February 1999, http://www.pc.gov.au/inquiry/esd/draftrep/index.html , p. 15.

Contact Officer

Fi ona Walker

11 August 1999

Bills Digest Service

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