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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 3916 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

defined clearly in terms of his or her regulatory and educational functions. Mr Berry has included a number of checks and balances which make his Bill more transparent and accountable than the government model on offer. For example, the provision in Mr Berry's Bill for the suspension or removal of the commissioner requires the Minister to cause a statement of the grounds of the suspension to be laid before the Legislative Assembly. The Assembly can then resolve to support or terminate the Minister's statement calling for the removal of the commissioner from office.

The Legislative Assembly also has the power to present to the Executive an address calling for the removal from office of the commissioner, based on misbehaviour or physical or mental incapacity. In contrast, the Government's Bill only allows for a notice of termination to be laid before the Legislative Assembly within three sitting days after notice of termination is given to the general manager. Termination of the appointment of directors of the Government's WorkCover authority are handled by the Minister without scrutiny by the Assembly.

I believe that Mr Berry's model delivers a more workable, accountable structure for regulating occupational health and safety issues in the ACT. It also retains the OH&S Council, with its broad stakeholder representation, in its advisory role. Given the questions which hang over the Government's model, particularly how the existing council and advisory committee would relate to the authority proposed by the Government and the other concerns that I have raised, it is very difficult to support the Government's Bill. As I have mentioned, I have concerns about the focus on business in the Government's Bill, particularly Part 4 - Management. Clause 24 states:

The functions of the authority must be discharged -

    1. in accordance with sound business practice; and
    2. so as to give effect to the authority's business plan.

That is fine, except that we do see a very much broader responsibility there that is not getting as much focus. As I have said already, there are unanswered questions about why that is necessary and what revenue-raising capacity, if any, the Government has in mind for its proposed authority. The statutory authority is to have regulatory responsibilities for OH&S in the ACT; that is obviously to be its key function. We have learnt from significant mistakes in past processes, and it is really important for the ACT community to have confidence in what this Assembly is doing now to address the very significant issues that have resulted from incompetent management of this area of government regulation. I repeat that I am really concerned about the Government's process here in that they have chosen to table this Bill in such haste that they would be employing a consultant afterwards to check it out and that they have not consulted with the OH&S Council. Mr Berry, on the other hand, has been working on this subject for quite some time and has a model that does appear to be much more accountable and suitable for the ACT, so it is with pleasure that I will be supporting Mr Berry's Bill.

MR BERRY: Mr Speaker, pursuant to standing order 47, I indicate that I may have misled members in some way or misstated the position in relation to New South Wales in drawing a comparison between it and the ACT. I said that, according to a comparison of workers compensation arrangements in Australian jurisdictions, the New South Wales WorkCover Authority had assets of $5.6m or thereabouts and $7.3m worth of

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