Page 5728 - Week 15 - Thursday, 10 December 2009

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In this matter, there is a positive and a negative to consider. The positive is that the section only gives the chief executive the authority to reduce the recoverable amount, not increase it. The negative is that a catch-all power may not prevent corruption, for example, by allowing personal relationships to influence decision making.

I considered an amendment to omit this paragraph. However, on reflection and after further discussion, I now propose an amendment that deletes the current words and substitutes “any other relative factors” in their place. In doing so, I am aware that common law principles underpin the operation of this kind of provision. Those principles would prevent the chief executive taking into account irrelevant factors. Nevertheless, my amendment removes the apparent arbitrary discretion of the chief executive and makes it a more objective consideration. I commend the amendment to the Assembly.

MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (4.29): As Mrs Dunne noted, this amendment has come out of the scrutiny of bills committee. The amendment seeks to remove ambiguities in the criteria by which the chief executive may apply lower recovery amounts. This helps combat any conflict of interest or perceived conflict of interest in the chief executive’s decision to lower recovery amounts. It is consistent with the recommendations, as I have noted, in the scrutiny report. The Greens will be supporting this amendment.

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Health and Minister for Industrial Relations) (4.30): This is what the public never gets to see, the kind of love-in that is happening at the moment. It is feeling a lot warmer and fuzzier than it was a few hours ago, I can tell you that. It is sure to disintegrate but, at the moment, it is nice and there should be more of it.

The government will support the opposition’s amendment. The inclusion of the catch-all provision provides employers with an assurance that the exercise of the chief executive’s discretion will not occur in ignorance of relevant information because it is not of a kind specified in the list of factors set out in section 149(4). The chief executive has obligations to exercise this administrative power in accordance with the law and for a proper purpose, and the government is very happy to support the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 12, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 13 to 27, by leave, taken together and agreed to.

Clause 28.

MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (4.31): I move amendment No 2 circulated in my name [see schedule 2 at page 5769].

As I noted in regard to my amendment 1, this amendment removes the mention of prior compliance as a criterion by which recovery amounts can be reduced and, as I noted earlier, we believe this strengthens the bill and would improve compliance.

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