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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 6 Hansard (23 May) . . Page.. 1701 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

raised by the committee are addressed in this response. The only recommendation that was enthusiastically supported was for the Bill to be enacted, and now it has been. But that recommendation was contingent on an appropriate response to the other recommendations and, in particular, independent scrutiny of the reforms.

This motion calls for an independent forum to be established with a range of outside community representatives, as recommended in the report of the Select Committee on Competition Policy Reform. A common theme that went through the whole committee inquiry was the need for outside scrutiny of the implementation of these reforms. They should not all be taking place behind closed doors. This forum should have some power and discretion to monitor the implementation of competition policy as it sees fit. It should not be just a token gesture. It should really have the capacity for input into the implementation agenda. In particular, the forum should be able to monitor the legislation review process, the development of community service obligations and the implementation of competitive tendering and outsourcing.

As I said yesterday, this is not really a very radical proposal. The Commonwealth has a panel which is the first point of call for any regulation that is required to be reviewed under the competition policy agenda. This committee includes an environmental representative and a consumer representative. The Western Australian Standing Committee on Uniform Legislation and Intergovernmental Agreements set out in detail appropriate procedures and structures to enable an appropriate system of regulation review, which included community consultation. CSOs - community service obligations - have also been a major concern for many groups in the community. Funding has to be there if community service obligations are not going to just drop off. There is a real concern that, by separating community service obligations from the so-called commercial side of government activities, they will be lost altogether.

Another major concern was that the community was being excluded from having input into the development of community service obligations. This is what the Community Information and Referral Centre has to say about the Government's attitude to community service obligations:

Butt Out. This is our concern. The government will develop CSO's and then tell you what they are. I do not think that is an acceptable option, especially when you are talking about ACTION and especially when you are talking about ACTEW.

It is not appropriate for human service areas either. I talked yesterday also about competitive tendering and outsourcing. I will not repeat that discussion now. The Government says that the existing consultative mechanisms are addressing the issues that we have included as the terms of reference for this forum. That is not what the committee found. I think reforms to government of this scale require independent scrutiny. Budget mechanisms are not good enough for scrutiny and careful development

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