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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 12 Hansard (16 November) . . Page.. 3538 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

Many provisions have been inserted in the Bill to ensure transparency of process and accountability to the Assembly either directly or through the Minister and Government.

It remains the role of Government to develop policies governing the health and safety of employees and the general public and to give these effect through legislation. Support for these functions will continue to be provided from within the public service.

However, these policies and laws are only as good as their application. A body, independent of the Executive, which is adequately constituted to act without fear or favour, is now essential.

Provisions requiring the preparation and tabling of annual business plans, quarterly reports and an annual report, together with the inclusion in the annual report of any directions issued by the Minister to the Authority are features of this transparent accountability process.

The legislation to be administered by the Authority is detailed at Section 4 of the Bill and is collectively known as 'workcover legislation'. The nominated pieces of legislation provide the core support for the responsibilities of the Authority. Additionally sub-section 4 (1) (i) enables further Acts, subordinate laws or provisions to be added by the making of regulations.

In this regard, I expect to make regulations enabling the new Authority to administer the employment-related Acts currently administered by ACT Workcover.

The Government would also expect the Authority on establishment to review, in conjunction with stakeholders, the adequacy of the 'workcover legislation' and make appropriate recommendations to the Minister on the need to add other Acts or subordinate law to the suite.

Such a consultative process is important for ensuring that the Authority is able to present its views on any additional powers it believes necessary to effectively discharge its responsibilities.

In this regard, sub-section 4 (2) provides the power to then make regulations to effect necessary amendments to these other Acts or subordinate law as a result of bringing them under the definition of 'workcover legislation'.

Any such regulations must be tabled in the Assembly and then confirmed within one year of their making by amending the applicable legislation. If this does not happen within the specified period, the regulations will expire.

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