Page 1006 - Week 03 - Thursday, 10 March 2016

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It is also important that the circumstances that gave rise to the situation are understood and, most importantly, that steps are taken to prevent it from occurring again. I would like to provide members with more information as to how this issue arose. The first three ACAT presidential member appointments were made in a 2008 instrument of appointment. The term of two of these members expired on 1 January 2016. The third expired on 2 February 2016. The 2008 instrument was amended in 2012 to appoint another presidential member. His appointment was to expire on 2 April 2019.

It is now not considered best practice to make appointments through amending instruments as, unlike acts and regulations, instruments are not consolidated and republished on the legislation register. As such, amendments to instruments are not readily apparent on the face of the original instrument, although they are identified on the register page for the original instrument.

Last year the instrument that made presidential members’ appointments to take effect on the expiry of the 2008 appointments wrongly contained a clause that revoked the 2008 appointment instrument on 1 January 2016, and this resulted in the early termination of two presidential member appointments.

I take this matter very seriously. I have explicitly sought assurances from my directorate that procedures are in place to make sure that this situation does not arise again. I can advise members that my directorate is undergoing an audit of their appointment procedures with a view to refining comprehensive guidelines to govern the process of future statutory appointments. The guidelines will address the specific issues that resulted in this problem we are rectifying today, including: (a) avoiding the use of revocation clauses in appointment instruments; (b) avoiding making appointments by amending instruments; and (c) when possible aligning the terms of appointment within instruments to expire on the same day, and where this is not possible, providing individual instruments for appointments with different terms.

Once again, I would like to apologise to members for the limited opportunity given for scrutiny of the bill this week. Members, know that I am grateful for your support and your recognition of the importance of putting beyond doubt the validity of decisions made by the two members of the tribunal during this period.

Finally, I would like to apologise to the two affected members of the tribunal themselves, whose appointments were inadvertently revoked. They are dedicated to the service of our community through their work with the ACAT, and they were of course completely unaware that their appointments had been inadvertently revoked. This bill will of course reinstate their appointments from the date of revocation until the date their original appointments were due to expire, and it puts the decisions they made in the belief that their appointment was in place beyond doubt.

I thank members for their support and I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

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