Page 3004 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 23 August 2005

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Legal Affairs—Standing Committee (performing the duties of a Scrutiny of Bills and Subordinate Legislation Committee)—Scrutiny Report 15, dated 22 August 2005, together with the relevant minutes of proceedings.

I seek leave to make a brief statement.

Leave granted.

MR STEFANIAK: Scrutiny report 15, which was circulated to members when the Assembly was not sitting, contains the committee’s comments on two bills, 59 pieces of subordinate legislation and two government responses. I commend the report to the Assembly.

Human Rights Commission Bill 2005

[Cognate bill:

Human Rights Commission Legislation Amendment Bill 2005]

Debate resumed from 7 July 2005, on motion by Mr Stanhope:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SPEAKER: I understand it is the wish of the Assembly to debate this bill cognately with executive business order of the day No 2, Human Rights Commission Legislation Amendment Bill 2005. That being the case, I remind members that, in debating order of the day No 1, executive business, they may also address their remarks to order of the day No 2, executive business.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (10.34): The opposition will not be supporting this bill. I can read and count up numbers, and obviously it is going to pass, but we have a couple of amendments that will hopefully make it better. The bill will establish a new statutory authority to provide the ACT community with—and these are the government’s words, supposedly—“improved access to statutory oversight services”. The government states that it is carrying out a commitment it made last year. The supposed purpose is to “consolidate the existing complaint bodies to ensure an optimum system for consumers and citizens and to allow flexibility in the use of resources”. I will make a few comments in relation to that later. The government review noted that, “A series of small stand-alone agencies would not be able to undertake the challenging tasks expected of them.” This new structure is meant to establish a more integrated approach to statutory oversight and service improvement.

The new human rights mega commission will incorporate the statutory oversight functions of the current office of the Community and Health Services Complaints Commission and the Human Rights Office. The creation of a new office accommodating all the functions of the various offices will supposedly enable the sharing of resources and expertise, as well as supposedly increasing consistency and improving coordination of statutory oversight functions. Again, it is to provide a single access point for people who want to access a range of complaints resolution, service improvement and community education facilities. That is the theory of it.

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