Page 2392 - Week 08 - Thursday, 6 June 2013
It would make the functions of official visitors less flexible and their roles less autonomous. Instead of a visit and a talk, official visitors would be inspecting and investigating. This is not what official visitors want. It is not what their clients want. It is not what the legislation, the government’s amendment, intends and, Madam Speaker, it is not what the opposition will support.
MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations and Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development) (12.14): The government will not be supporting Mr Rattenbury’s proposed amendments. The proposed amendments strip the bill of essential clarity in relation to those places which will be routinely visited by official visitors. They introduce additional instruments for some operational elements but not others. They threaten the independence of official visitors by requiring the official visitors board to monitor their performance. They misdirect resources and the functions of operational agencies. And there is no clear justification for any of these changes.
In contrast, the Official Visitor Amendment Bill 2013 reflects the government’s extensive consultation with stakeholders to ensure the effectiveness of the scheme. I turn to each of the amendments. In relation to amendment 1, this amendment, with proposed amendment 5, would introduce an additional instrument that will need to be used in conjunction with the guidelines, but there is no explanation as to why it is necessary. The amendments would remove provisions that provide for how often an official visitor must inspect a visitable place and move them to a disallowable declaration under a new section 15A.
Despite the position advanced by Mr Rattenbury that this will clarify the operation of the act, it is not clear that this will clarify anything. What we will have is another disallowable instrument to provide separately for this operational detail but which must be read in conjunction with the other disallowable instrument that provides the other operational details. There is no clarity in this. It will create additional work for no clear benefit. Mr Rattenbury’s amendment uses “inspect” which is omitted from the bill and substituted with “visit”. This is inconsistent with the rest of the bill.
Turning to amendment 2, this amendment would add the commissioner from the Human Rights Commission to the list of people to whom a report about a noncompliant visitable place may be given. The amendment is unnecessary as the bill will provide for official visitors to report noncompliance to the board. The commissioner would receive that report to the board. The bill provides that the Public Advocate may receive these reports, as the Public Advocate has always received this type of information.
In respect of amendment 3, as with the previous amendment, this amendment would add a commissioner from the Human Rights Commission to the list of people to whom a report about complaints may be given. The amendment is unnecessary, as the bill provides for official visitors to report on complaints to the official visitors board. The commissioner would receive that report through the board. The bill provides that the Public Advocate may receive these reports, as the Public Advocate has always received this information.