Page 1101 - Week 03 - Thursday, 22 March 2012

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I will speak very briefly to this; it is fairly self-explanatory, as it states on the notice paper. The temporary orders that are listed there are to be adopted as standing orders. They relate to hours of meeting, time limits for debates and speeches, matters of public importance, answers to questions without notice, agreement in principle to be determined at a later meeting, amendment to bills, order for the production of documents, and requests for “explanation concerning government response to committee report”. This is an item which has been discussed in the administration and procedure committee and I understand that all parties support it.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Executive business—precedence

Ordered that executive business be called on.

Government Procurement Amendment Bill 2011

Debate resumed from 8 December 2011, on motion by Mr Barr:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (10.31): The opposition will be supporting the passage of this bill. The bill proposes a number of sensible amendments to the current policy regime dealing with procurement. The first amendment deals with a situation where there is inconsistency in the requirements for thresholds relating to the management and reporting of contracts. This issue is dealt with in clauses 4, 5, 6 and 7. At present there are multiple thresholds applying to the publishing of contracts and the threshold above which a minimum of three quotations must be sought for certain procurement. The amendment proposed in the bill will align relevant thresholds and simplify administration and reporting.

Probably of more importance is the associated change dealing with the use of regulations to update the relevant thresholds. At present the act contains, in section 25(2)(a) for example, a reference to a monetary threshold of $20,000 as well as a provision to alter the threshold by regulation should that be necessary. It is always problematic having monetary thresholds specified in acts, as it is a relatively complex process to make a change to an act. It is much easier to keep the relative value of a threshold constant in real terms by using a regulatory power. Of course, the use of regulatory powers must be balanced by a need for transparency and openness. It is important that significant changes in law are not made by changing regulations, which may not be subject to appropriate scrutiny, at least in the first instance. In this instance, the need for a threshold is clear and the monetary value simply needs to be kept appropriate to changes caused by changes in the inflation rate.

The second amendment deals with the frequency for reporting to the public accounts committee those contracts which have had confidential text removed. We accept that extending the reporting period for reportable contracts from six to 12 months is reasonable, particularly given the availability of information on the public contracts

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