Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 6 Hansard (6 June) . . Page.. 1783..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
The functions of the ACTION Authority will be taken over by the Department of Territory and Municipal Services, which will run bus services for the territory. The services will continue to be provided under the name "ACTION". In providing these services the department will be required to meet the service standards set for commercial bus services. However, ACTION services will no longer be a regulated industry under the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission Act.
The functions of the Australian Capital Tourism Corporation and the Stadiums Authority also will be absorbed by the Department of Territory and Municipal Services to give savings though efficiencies.
Health-related grants previously administered by the Health Promotion Authority will now be administered by ACT Health, again so the territory can gain from efficiencies of reintegrating functions and staff. Importantly, provisions in the bill ensure that existing grants continue, as liabilities under contracts and agreements can be transferred to the territory.
Abolition of the independent statutory office of Small Business Commissioner will allow the role to be taken up by a public service position within my department. This dedicated position will allow the services to continue to be provided while at the same time realising the savings from overheads for a separate office.
As a small jurisdiction with a limited revenue base, the ACT is not able to afford to maintain a plethora of independent offices. Consolidation will save costs by reducing overheads and streamlining service provision. As part of this consolidation process this bill provides for emergency services to be administered through the Department of Justice and Community Safety. The bill amends the Emergencies Act to abolish the Emergency Services Authority and to make the Emergency Services Commissioner a public service position within the department.
While administration and infrastructure will be provided through the department, thus delivering savings, operational matters will remain in the hands of the Emergency Services Commissioner. The commissioner will retain responsibility for the running of the four emergency services-the ambulance service, the fire brigade, the rural fire service and the state emergency service-in conjunction with the chief officers of those services. Nothing in this bill will change the way that emergency services are provided. The changes will simply relieve the commissioner of the administrative burden of a separate administrative structure and allow for concentration on operational matters.
Changes in the bill to the Emergency Services Act provide for the Bushfire Council to provide advice to the responsible minister and to give advice to the commissioner if asked. No substantive policy changes are made to the Emergencies Act by the bill. It simply makes the adjustments necessary to abolish the independent statutory authority.
The bill contains amendments to the Financial Management Act to facilitate the transfer of assets, liabilities and functions from abolished statutory bodies back to the territory. The Financial Management Act already contains a range of provisions about governance of statutory entities. The new provisions make special provision for situations where a statutory entity is to be abolished or is to have functions transferred.