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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 10 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 4410..


MR WOOD (continuing):

Clause 9 agreed to.

Clause 10 negatived.

Remainder of bill, by leave, taken as a whole.

MR WOOD (Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, and Minister for Arts and Heritage,) (9.24): I seek leave to move together amendments 5 to 20 circulated in my name.

Leave granted.

MR WOOD: I move amendments 5 to 20 [see schedule 7 at page 4470].

Amendments agreed to.

Remainder of bill, as a whole, as amended, agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.

Small Business Commissioner Bill 2004

Debate resumed from 19 August 2004, on motion by Mr Quinlan:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MS DUNDAS (9.25): I have a number of questions and concerns about this bill that I wish to outline to the Assembly. I note that proposed amendments to this bill will enable a review of the act once it comes into force, so it might be more appropriate for me to address all my concerns in the detail stage. My first concern relates to how the proposed Small Business Commissioner will fit into the architecture of oversight agencies in the territory. Only today we received a review of statutory oversight agencies in the ACT.

One of the issues that led to that inquiry was whether there were too many poorly coordinated and potentially overlapping oversight agencies. Interestingly, the first thing this government did since that response was tabled was to try to create a new statutory oversight agency, so there is an inconsistency. On the one hand the government is claiming that there is too much disparate oversight but, on the other hand, it is trying to create more oversight agencies. I think that leads to a deeper question about whether or not the title "commissioner" is appropriate for a small business advocate.

The title "commissioner" has come to have a certain meaning in the Canberra community. Generally, commissioners are people who represent broad public interest. They have special powers of investigation, they have certain legal standing, or they have the ability to stand outside the normal apparatus of government. For instance, under some circumstances the Human Rights Commissioner has special powers to appear before the Supreme Court when human rights issues are being discussed. The


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