Page 578 - Week 02 - Thursday, 20 February 2020

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therefore appropriate that this new national role for the elected body is reflected in its underpinning legislation.

Members will know that the elected body holds annual hearings based on the format of estimates and annual reports hearings. The hearings provide an important mechanism for the elected body to ask questions, hold the government to account and to report the success or otherwise of policies and services for the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

In my discussions with the elected body, members have expressed the need to give the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community greater access to the elected body’s hearings. At present they are open to the public and recorded in a Hansard-style transcript, and the elected body provides a report and recommendations following the hearings.

Broadcasting the hearings as the elected body sees fit would enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Canberrans and the wider community to watch the hearings as they take place or on demand. It was previously recommended in the most recent review of the Legislative Assembly’s standing orders that legal advice be sought on the potential legal ramifications of reticulating elected body hearings in the Assembly buildings. The work done in response to this recommendation concluded that it would not be possible for the Office of the Legislative Assembly to broadcast the elected body hearings in the same way it does those of Legislative Assembly committees.

Following receipt of this advice from the Speaker, I asked the Community Services Directorate to explore other options, including whether the elected body act could be amended to provide immunity to anyone broadcasting elected body hearings. That is what this bill achieves. It is important to note that the bill provides an enabling environment for the broadcast of elected body hearings; it does not require that they are broadcast. This will remain a decision for the elected body.

Once the elected body has held its public hearings or conducted one of its regular consultations, it is required to provide a report to the government. This bill creates new time frames for the presentation of reports and shortens the time frames for the ACT government to respond.

Under the current act no time frame is stipulated within which the elected body is required to report to the minister following its hearings. The amendments to sections 10B(1) and 10B(3)(b) impose a four-month time frame on the elected body to report to the minister and shorten the time frame for the government response from six months to four months. This will enable information to become available sooner and ensure that both the report and response are more timely and therefore more relevant to the community.

The elected body is currently required to prepare written reports on its community consultation activities but, again, there is no time frame within which these reports must be provided to the minister. The amendments in this bill will require the elected body to provide a copy of the report to the government within two months after the day the consultation ends. The reporting line is also amended to include not only the

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