Page 451 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 4 March 2008

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Clause 9 agreed to.

Remainder of bill, by leave, taken as a whole and agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.

Regulatory Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2007

Debate resumed from 12 February 2008, on motion by Mr Barr:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (5.20): As I have mentioned in previous debates, I worry that the Office of Regulatory Services is being stretched too thin, given the range of services it is required to provide. This bill, as noted by Mr Corbell, does suggest ways to address the office’s heavy workload by increasing efficiency across many of its regulatory agencies. Increasing efficiency, which often means more work on fewer dollars, seems to be the overriding aim of this legislation, with the benefits to business and the public a secondary concern.

The process of achieving greater efficiency was no doubt necessitated by the 2006 functional review. I hope that this bill closes that process until there has been a review of the impact of these changes on services to consumers and business. I believe that, as well as making small changes such as these to improve the efficiency of the office, providing adequate staff and resources would also assist.

That said, we are here to debate the specific amendments in the bill, and while I can see no reason to impose these amendments, there are a couple of minor issues I would like to raise. First is the issue of the police check, as raised by the scrutiny report. Police checks are standard practice in much of civil society these days, and they do serve as a guard against abuses in a variety of positions in the public service and the private sector. Obtaining a police check in order to apply for one of the licences described in this bill is already a requirement, and, as Mr Stanhope notes in his response to the scrutiny committee’s concerns, the intent of these changes is to lessen the workload of the Office of Regulatory Services by having people apply and pay directly to the Australian Federal Police themselves rather than going through the office.

The intent of the amendment is not being questioned; the question regards the inclusion of charges in the police check, as shown in clause 17 and elsewhere. Mr Stanhope noted in his response:

I do not anticipate that the criminal record check will differ from the check that is currently undertaken …

The amendments allow the applicant to deal directly with the AFP to correct any errors rather than working through the office. These statements, coupled with clause 17 (b), which requires the particulars of each offence to be included in the certificate, could serve as a mechanism for the details of charges to be included in the

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