Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 13 Hansard (27 November) . . Page.. 4905 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
The Chief Minister, in his presentation speech, described this instrument in July as a re-appointment but in fact there was a change made to the employer representatives on the board. Members of the board-one chair, two industry and two workforce representatives-are appointed by the minister, which should be done in accordance with part 19.3, division 19.3.1, of the Legislation Act.
The instruments of appointment to this board are disallowable instruments. The legislation register for 2002 does not show any disallowable instruments appointing members to this board. It is not until July 2003 that we get an appointment, and at that time the employer representatives were changed, as I said. However, the board's annual report states that the minister re-appointed the members for the period 1 November 2002 to 30 June 2003. Clearly, there was confusion in the paperwork. In any case, according to the board's annual report, there was no change in membership of the board throughout 2002-2003 and it is clear from the report that the board continued to do its important work of facilitating training, including substantially increasing the amount of money that went to entry-level training and to promotion and marketing.
It is still not really clear what happened, other than that there was an administrative oversight. It seems clear that the board continued with its membership unchanged through to the end of the 2002-03 financial year. This part of the Statute Law Amendment Bill is effectively to retrospectively approve the board continuing with its work, as it did, even though technically the members were not properly appointed for that period of time.
The Legislation Act does have a provision that the board should not be affected by mistakes in the appointment, but this is a little different to that situation. In one sense, this is a minor administrative matter. However, it is pretty important that, when we have statutory boards who are responsible for administering public money, the open processes of appointment are adhered to. We have all made mistakes and forgotten forms, but it could have been a problem. I would have felt a bit more comfortable with some more explanation up front.
On a related matter, the Public Accounts Committee has recently had some correspondence with the Chief Minister about the amount of information provided by ministers to committees in connection with appointments. I would like to point out that, contrary to the Chief Minister's assertion in his letter that appointments to boards are a matter for the executive and not for the Assembly, for the types of statutory appointments that must come to committees the Assembly does indeed have a role. Not only must the minister have regard to the recommendations of the relevant committee in making the appointment but the Assembly can disallow the instrument of appointment.
MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Environment and Minister for Community Affairs) (10.00), in reply: I thank members for their contribution to the debate. I think, as members have indicated, periodic statute law amendment bills are very significant pieces of legislation. They tend to pass through the Assembly rather quickly, often with real ease.
We all acknowledge the significant work that the Office of Parliamentary Counsel does in preparing these periodic pieces of legislation to update our legislation. I also acknowledge the work and expertise of our Office of Parliamentary Counsel. I think the