Page 4516 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 23 November 2005

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in the ACT is amongst the best in the world. It is a direct result of the priority and investment that this government has given to education.

Disability and community services commissioner

DR FOSKEY: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Attorney-General and is with regard to the proposed disability and community services commissioner. In the development of the model for the human rights commission there was considerable discussion and extensive consultation about the role and responsibilities of a disability, or disability services, commissioner. The Human Rights Commission Act, however, identifies a disability and community services commissioner, although the description of the responsibilities of that commissioner in the act only details responsibilities in respect of disability services, which appears to be reflected in the funding. Given that the government has already advertised for commissioners, how could a disability and community services commissioner be appointed before the community services functions are defined and appropriate selection criteria are in place?

MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Dr Foskey, for the question. I have to say at this stage that I am not up with the processes, duty statements or job descriptions to that degree. It certainly is the government’s determination to recognise the broader functional responsibilities that would be incorporated in a commissioner for disability and community services. The government is mindful of the structure of the human rights commission, which, as you know and as you alluded to, will incorporate a human rights and discrimination commissioner, a health complaints commissioner, a children’s commissioner and a disability and community services commissioner.

To some extent, the structure and nature of the responsibilities of each of the various commissioners that will comprise the human rights commission have to be determined by our resourcing capacity and the resources that we believe we can apply at this stage to the human rights commission. I acknowledge that the range of functions or role of any of the commissioners—and most particularly that of the disability and community services commissioner—is to some extent a reflection of the budget we have been able to apply to the commission. I think everybody is aware that our budget position is tight. That is reflected not only in the funding available for the human rights commission but also across the board.

There are aspects of the detail of the question you ask, Dr Foskey, that I will have to inform myself on. To answer your question more fully, I think the best thing for me to do is to take it on notice and provide you with more specific detail around the range of responsibilities on the duty statements, so to speak, of each of the commissioners and most particularly, that of the disability commissioner.

DR FOSKEY: Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. Perhaps this will also have to be taken on notice but I will ask the question so you can do that. Will the funding of the commission, then, be adjusted to take into account the additional so far unfunded workload of this commissioner?

MR STANHOPE: The budget that has been applied to the operation, management and running of the human rights commission will, of course, be distributed according to decisions made by the commission itself. I think the answer to your question is that all

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