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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (16 May) . . Page.. 1774 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

The role of the Assembly is not to examine the merits of each individual scheme but rather to properly scrutinise the criteria under which such schemes will be assessed. I stress to members that it is not the role of the Assembly to be the approving body for each individual scheme. But it is the role of the Assembly to oversight the criteria under which such approvals are made by the responsible minister.

Ms Dundas is proposing that the Assembly be directly responsible for approving each and every scheme, by having a power of veto over whether or not those schemes should be approved. That is not an appropriate course of action. It would almost certainly result in uncertainty for each of those schemes and for consumers. For example, under the proposal Ms Dundas puts forward, a scheme could operate from the date of approval, but if it was subsequently disallowed by the Assembly, what would that mean for the scheme and for the consumers who had been protected under that scheme up until the point it was disallowed?

It is entirely appropriate for the Assembly to veto and have disallowance power over the criteria under which schemes are approved. It is not appropriate for the Assembly to have the power to approve or not approve each individual scheme. The government will not be supporting Ms Dundas' amendment.

MRS DUNNE (6.46): Mr Speaker, the opposition will not be supporting Ms Dundas' amendment, for many of the reasons put forward by the minister. The process of the Assembly is to approve or not approve the structure. The responsibility of approving or not approving the individual fidelity scheme rests solely with the minister.

MS TUCKER (6.47): The Greens will not be supporting this amendment either. While we are regular supporters of the need for ministerial actions to be subject to Assembly disallowance, we think there are limits to how much the Assembly should intervene in the functions of the executive.

Generally, the disallowance power is used when the minister sets some form of policy-for example, regulations, instruments containing technical guidelines, management plans or Territory Plan variations. In this bill, the approval criteria for schemes and the prudential standards are disallowable instruments, and rightly so, as they are expressions of the policy of the government as to what is expected of fidelity schemes.

The approval of particular fidelity funds is, however, not an issue of policy but an issue of how the minister applies the provisions of the legislation and its subordinate instruments. This is really an executive decision and responsibility. Normally there are separate legal avenues of appeal by applicants in these situations.

I also note that under the Commonwealth Insurance Act the authorisation of insurers is notified in the Gazette but is not subject to disallowance. In line with my view that there should be a level playing field between fidelity funds and insurance companies, I think it would be unfair for fidelity funds to have the uncertainty of not knowing whether their approval will be disallowed when insurance companies are not subject to the same uncertainty.

Amendment negatived.

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