Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (27 May) . . Page.. 615 ..
Mr Berry: But they all have police checks.
Mr Humphries: Not necessarily.
MR STEFANIAK: Not necessarily; that is right. As for Mr Berry's claim that this $25 fee is an imposition upon people unable to afford it, I would like to point out that since its introduction nearly three years ago there has been, I am advised, only one complaint from a prospective employee claiming disadvantage in relation to the fee. In these circumstances the levying of such a small fee could hardly be construed by any reasonable person as a deterrent to employment.
I do not think Mr Berry is seeing reason in raising this motion. What he is doing is manipulating an extremely sensitive area for his own political advantage. I think you really should direct your energies somewhere else, Mr Berry. Mr Berry, I remain confident in the knowledge that the department is doing its utmost to protect our young people from possible menace. I can assure other members of this place that our schools and services for young people are as safe and as nurturing as we can possibly make them.
I reiterate and reinforce what occurs in other States, Mr Berry. Only one State does not pass it on. Where there is a fee, all the others pass it on.
Mr Berry: For administrative assistants? No.
MR STEFANIAK: They pass it on, Mr Berry. I am quite happy to table the document which I have just read from in relation to these fees. This is a fee which is charged to the department. It is being passed on. It is not an impost. It is something the department would pay itself otherwise. It is money that, if the department had to pay it, would not be available for better projects and assistance to young people where it is most needed. It is not an insubstantial amount. It is up to about $50,000 in any one year. It is not an insignificant amount. It is not as if the department were making a profit. The department is charged the fee. It is merely passed on. That is a consistent practice right across the country, with the exception of Queensland.
MR RUGENDYKE (11.09): Mr Speaker, I have listened to both sides of the argument about the $25 fee, and I must say that it is a particularly challenging question for me. My office conducted investigations into the matter to ascertain what is happening in other parts of Australia in relation to this fee. In some States and Territories - namely, Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania and the Northern Territory - the police do not charge for this service, so education and community services departments are not required to pay the administration fees for new employees.
It is true that a user-pays system applies in the other States. My information is that teaching and non-teaching staff in the education departments of Victoria and Western Australia are required to obtain and pay for their own police checks. In South Australia teaching staff and not ancillary staff are required to obtain and pay for police checks. However, there is another inconsistency in Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia. There is no levy for employees in areas equivalent to Community Services. In Victoria the police checks are classified as a standard recruitment overhead in the Department of Human Services, and the new employee