Page 2880 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 5 August 2008

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clarify that a quarantine area declaration of the act does not need to include information on restrictions on sale unless there are restrictions imposed by the minister. The previous section simply required the declaration to state “the restrictions on sale in the ACT of an animal, animal product or other thing that has, at any time during a stated period, been in the area” et cetera. This had the effect of requiring a statement even when no restrictions were contemplated by the minister. So the amendment in the bill seems to be sensible.

The bill also amends the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act with respect to the perpetual care trust for the preservation and maintenance of cemeteries. The existing act allows the minister to specify other purposes for the trust by a disallowable instrument. There is no limitation on the purposes that can be chosen by the minister. The bill before us amends the existing act to restrict the allowable purposes to charitable purposes. It also ensures that if the trust is dissolved and replaced with a new trust, the new trust will be established for a charitable purpose.

This also seems to me to be a sensible amendment as I do not think that it is suitable for this trust to be used for commercial or other purposes. In fact, I think that we should want to be sure that any purpose chosen by the minister for the trust should have some connection to cemeteries, to ensure that this trust does not become a means of financing other charitable activities for which it was not originally designed. I would be open to an amendment of this kind; however, the existing provisions, which make the declaration a disallowable instrument, provide adequate protection to ensure that the trust is used properly.

The bill amends the Government Procurement Act to increase the size of the council from seven members to nine members. I note that in his introductory speech on the bill the Attorney-General makes no real attempt to explain the reason for the increase in council members; he merely states that this is “to facilitate the operation of the board”.

I am constantly amazed at how the government is able to use so many people to manage and administer its $3 billion operations. When one considers that major corporations such as BHP Billiton are able to operate with a relatively small board of directors, it is quite incredible how much administration is used in the ACT government in dealing with a minuscule budget relative to that corporation. To give some understanding of the difference, although I acknowledge that they are not easily comparable, BHP has a board of only 12 members to run its $47 billion enterprise with operations in every corner of the planet.

Since this increase has come after previous amendments to the procurement act, one cannot help but wonder if the new procurement principles are proving a little harder to administer than was first anticipated. I wonder in particular if this increase has been driven in part by the inclusion of ethical criteria for procurement judgements, which is an aspect that may involve further elaboration and could be the subject of subjective disagreement. Only time will tell whether this criterion is able to be used sensibly, as I indicated in a previous debate, or whether there will be any serious disagreements over its application.

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