Legislative Council: Tuesday, June 14, 2022



Cross Border Commissioner Bill

Committee Stage

In committee.

(Continued from 2 June 2022.)

Clauses 1 and 2 passed.

Clause 3.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: I move:

Amendment No 1 [Centofanti–3]—

Page 2, after line 12—After the definition of cross border communities insert:

government agency means—

(a) a State authority; or

(b) an agency or instrumentality of the Crown in right of the Commonwealth;

responsible Minister in relation to a State authority means—

(a) if the authority is a person who holds an office established by an Act or a body established by or under an Act—the Minister responsible for the administration of that Act; or

(b) if the authority is an administrative unit—the Minister responsible for that administrative unit; or

(c) if the authority is an assessment panel appointed or constituted under Part 6 Division 2 of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016—the Minister responsible for the administration of that Act; or

(d) in any other case—the Minister declared by the regulations to be the responsible Minister for the authority or, in the absence of such a declaration, the Minister responsible for the administration of this Act;

State authority means—

(a) a person who holds an office established by an Act; or

(b) an administrative unit; or

(c) a council; or

(d) an assessment panel appointed or constituted under Part 6 Division 2 of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016; or

(e) any incorporated or unincorporated body—

(i) established for a public purpose by an Act; or

(ii) established for a public purpose under an Act (other than an Act providing for the incorporation of companies or associations, co-operatives, societies or other voluntary organisations); or

(iii) established or subject to control or direction by the Governor, a Minister of the Crown or any instrumentality or agency of the Crown or a council (whether or not established by or under an Act or an enactment); or

(f) a person or body declared by the regulations to be an authority to which this Act applies,

but does not include a body or entity excluded from the ambit of this definition by the regulations.

This amendment defines key terms and phrases that will need to be added to part 1, clause 3, in support of a further amendment that will be moved in my name: amendment No. 5 [Centofanti-3].

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Mr Chairman, would it be appropriate for this amendment to be considered a test case for the later amendments and therefore we make the discussions in regard to the annual plan and so on, which I think is the amendment being referred to, at this clause and then that will be taken as a test for the actual amendment that may or may not be moved by the Leader of the Opposition afterwards?

The CHAIR: The Hon. Ms Centofanti, now we are going to enter into your substantive arguments with regard to these amendments and then we will put this amendment as a test for the remaining amendments.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: To say that this is a test for the remaining amendments actually flies in the face of proper process. It might well be the exact same numbers later on, but there is no done deal just with this amendment that then determines the votes on future amendments. I just wish to make that quite clear to certain people who are not necessarily the Chair.

The CHAIR: Your point is well made. We will put each amendment separately, if that is the will of the council. The Hon. Ms Franks, the reality, though, is that if this amendment is defeated, then the other amendments cannot stand, I am advised. The Hon. Ms Centofanti, perhaps you could cover the ambit of your amendments that you are wanting to raise.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: I refer particularly to amendment No. 5, which is the insertion of clause 6A—Annual plan. This amendment seeks to alter of the requirements of the commissioner in regard to the annual plan. Clause 6(d) of the bill states that a function of the commissioner will be to prepare an annual plan. Clause 6(f) states that the function of the commissioner is to provide reports on any aspects of the commissioner's function at the request of the minister or on the commissioner's own initiatives.

My questions to this are: to what end, and what will the annual plan contain? What reports is the minister likely to request, and will they be made public? What responsibilities does the commissioner have to prepare the proposals? What responsibilities does the commissioner have to outline priorities that the commissioner recommends be pursued? Also, what responsibilities does the commissioner have to consult with the local community and seek their views, most importantly?

To my point, at the moment there is no clear requirement—or rather, no clear minimum requirement—as to the level of consultation, communication or engagement that the commissioner must undertake with that cross-border community, whether that be a local council that may be directly affected by a proposal of the commissioner or, indeed, the local member of parliament that represents that electorate or a mum-and-dad business or an individual member of that community.

We on this side of the chamber want the commissioner to be accountable, and we want the commissioner to be responsible to the local community and have a legal requirement to seek their views. We want to ensure that there is a mechanism for adequate community consultation within this piece of legislation. This amendment ensures that the bill legislates a minimum requirement that the commissioner must seek in regard to consultation with local government, consultation with the local member of parliament and consultation with individuals in the community. Importantly, it also legislates that the consultation process be made public. This ensures that there is an important level of transparency within this piece of legislation.

Individual members of the community should have an opportunity to have input into a decision that affects their community. Everyone should have the opportunity to know who was consulted and the views of the community on a particular proposal. If we were going to go down the path of creating a legislative framework for the cross-border commissioner, then I think we should make sure it has some teeth in it. Otherwise, I think it does run the risk of being a costly bureaucratic exercise that achieves little more than the addition of red tape.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I appreciate the opportunity to make some comments in regard to this. We have just heard from the Leader of the Opposition that she wants to avoid this becoming a costly bureaucratic level, but in fact the amendments that are proposed do exactly that. The amendments that are proposed add a layer of bureaucracy, they add a layer of red tape, and they actually work against the intent of the bill.

The issues that the Leader of the Opposition has referred to are very well adequately covered in clause 6 of the original bill under Functions of Commissioner:

The functions of the Commissioner are as follows:

(a) to facilitate collaboration between governments and service providers to address issues involving cross-border communities;

(b) to work and engage with all tiers of government, businesses and the community to ensure the needs of cross-border communities are considered in the development and implementation of policy, procedures and legislation;

It goes on to identify key barriers for economic development in cross-border regions and to advocate for a simplified regulatory environment for business growth and labour mobility in cross-border regions. It then goes on with some of the other aspects.

The advice that I have in regard to the level of additional bureaucracy and red tape that would be the result of these amendments going into the bill and being passed is that it would add at least between three and four months before the commissioner could actually start doing their job.

These amendments require, in addition to obviously some time—so let's say the commissioner was appointed tomorrow. The commissioner would obviously need to prepare the draft annual plan, some sort of draft, which is reasonable to suggest would take, let's say, four weeks at a minimum. Then, according to these amendments, the commissioner would need to publish the draft and consult, and that includes three weeks up on the website.

For that to be meaningful, surely you would allow at least four weeks for responses to that draft. It then needs to go through a cabinet process and then go to the Governor. Now, that is usually at least four weeks for a cabinet submission to be prepared, for there to be a costing comment, for it to go to other departments for consultation and for it to come back, and then go through the minimum 10 days' process of notice to cabinet.

Those three items come to three months by themselves. That does not allow for extra time, which would have to be involved, for example preparing letters to the councils. As we know, councils generally meet once a month, so if the commissioner was appointed tomorrow but the council had met today, we are looking at another potential month before a council meeting could be held. We also need time, obviously, to put content on a website, to write the letters, to write the requests for input and consultation.

I very carefully did not exaggerate in any shape or form the amount of time that takes. Most of those are in the proposed amendments and some are simply the process that would have to occur. At the very least, we are looking at three to four months before the annual plan could be agreed to and assented to by the Governor.

If we appointed a commissioner tomorrow, we cannot expect that commissioner to actually start doing the work for at least three to four months, and then at the end of the year they need to go through a similar process again. It might be an update, so hopefully it would not include that extra four weeks at the beginning, but then it needs to be published on a website. To get meaningful feedback you would want to do that for at least four weeks. It needs to go to cabinet and it needs to be approved by the Governor, either in whole or in part, according to the amendments.

So do we want the commissioner to actually be responsive? Do we want the commissioner to be able to work with local communities? Do we want the commissioner to be able to, from day one, be hearing from local communities, from local businesses, from other bodies, about what the issues are and be able to start in the commissioner's remit of actually undertaking the functions to facilitate collaboration between governments and service providers, to work and engage with all tiers of government, businesses and the community as outlined in clause 6?

I think we need to be very conscious that border communities want this cross-border commissioner. They wanted a cross-border commissioner well before COVID hit, but then when COVID did hit the need for this sort of role was magnified a hundredfold, maybe a thousandfold for some people. They want this to proceed. They do not want to be bogged down in red tape and bureaucracy, they do not want it to be sabotaged through a legislative amendment process in a way that will actually prevent the commissioner from getting on with the job. The commissioner wants to be able to engage, liaise and facilitate relationships. I am aware that—

The Hon. T.A. Franks interjecting:

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I know that I should not respond to interjections, but the Hon. Ms Franks asked, 'Who is this commissioner?' No; no-one has been chosen at all. The community spirit is that the commissioner will want to be getting on with the job, and I would honestly hope that everyone in this place would want that to occur as well. To bog it down in red tape and bureaucracy, under the guise of trying to get rid of red tape and bureaucracy, does not make any sense.

It will mean a commissioner's office, which will have a very small staffing level—there will be a commissioner and, based on the budget, one or maybe two other staff members—involved in engaging with the community, engaging with business, trying to engage with the cross-border commissioners in Victoria and New South Wales and, of course, relevant state bodies in other states and territories.

They want to be able to get on with the job. They do not want to be spending all their time planning out an annual plan that might need to change. COVID surely showed us how we need to be able to change, react, 'pivot' (to use the term so popular during the height of COVID). We want the commissioner to be able to respond to the community.

This role is about building relationships, particularly with other jurisdictions. This is not about imposing a legislatively burdensome regime on the people who will take on the role of commissioner and his or her office. We want a streamlining, not additional bureaucracy. To that end, I ask the mover of the amendment who she has consulted with in terms of these amendments.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: I think the point here is very simple. I do not think members of the cross-border community would view the consultation process by a commissioner as red tape. The minister is right; I think cross-border communities do want a commissioner. They want a commissioner out on the ground, and they want someone getting on with the job. In fact, is that not what this amendment does? It ensures that the commissioner is consulting and speaking with cross-border communities going forward.

I would have thought the first priority of a cross-border commissioner would be to ensure they are actually consulting with cross-border communities, with members of cross-border communities. In fact, this amendment most certainly does not bog us down with red tape but ensures there is a minimum requirement that the cross-border commissioner actually does consult with the local government, the local member and the community.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I reiterate, again, that a cross-border commissioner will consult, because that is their role. That is included in their functions. What we do not want to see is how that consultation should occur being prescribed in the legislation. We want the commissioner to be responsive to local and community needs, we want him or her to be able to respond to issues as they arise.

By setting out in advance, in a legislated way, how the consultation needs to occur—including, as I said, all those extra weeks, which actually add up to months, of consultation—before they can get on with the job is going to be counterproductive. It is going to sabotage the role of the commissioner before it even begins. I again ask for the Leader of the Opposition to answer the question of who she consulted with about these amendments.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: As the minister would be aware, I live in a cross-border community and I consulted with a number of people in my community. I also wrote to councils that are cross-border community councils. Again, to the minister's point, I think we can go back and forth for the rest of the afternoon but I think we do not need to do that. I would just make the point that this is purely a process of ensuring that there is adequate consultation.

The current annual plan uses what one could interpret as very subjective language when it comes to consultation and communication. What I am setting out to achieve with these amendments is purely and simply ensuring that we are moving away from that subjective language and ensuring that there is a minimum requirement for the commissioner to consult with the community that will be affected by whatever proposal the commissioner wants to put in place.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Can the honourable member indicate whether she wrote to the Limestone Coast Local Government Association and, if so, what was their response? Secondly, I think she mentioned in her second reading contribution the advocacy of the member for Mount Gambier. Has she discussed these amendments with the member for Mount Gambier and, if so, what were his views?

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: I have discussed these amendments with the member for Mount Gambier and he indicated to me that he thought that my amendment strengthened the position of the cross-border commissioner. I am sure the member for Mount Gambier has had many conversations in regard to the Cross Border Commissioner Bill, and I want to acknowledge the member for Mount Gambier for his advocacy in this area.

Like many of us that come from cross-border communities, he understands the need for a cross-border commissioner and he understands the importance of ensuring that a cross-border commissioner adequately communicates and consults with cross-border community members. In terms of the Limestone Coast, as I said, there was quite a long list of councils that I wrote to. A number of councils did not reply. Off the top of my head, I cannot tell you exactly which councils, and I do not have their documents on hand. I am happy to come back to the chamber at some point with that consultation.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Is the Leader of the Opposition saying that the member for Mount Gambier supports these amendments that she has put forward?

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: Really, that is a question for the member for Mount Gambier. You asked me whether I had had conversations with the member for Mount Gambier, and I have said that, yes, I have had communications with the member for Mount Gambier.

The Hon. C. BONAROS: The member for Mount Gambier is one of 69 members of this place, and there are 68 others who should be consulted over the same changes. I would be keen to hear what their views are on these changes as well, if we are going to ask about one particular member.

I cannot help but think that we are making a bit of a mountain out of a molehill on this issue. We often prescribe what our expectations are when it comes to the role that someone like a commissioner will undertake, or anybody else in fact, to make it clear to them what the intent of parliament was—not just one member of parliament but all members of parliament.

I cannot help but think that we are exaggerating a bit in terms of the effect of these amendments. I understand what the minister has said about the time frame for the annual plan, but there are nine functions stipulated in the bill, as I see it, and I am curious as to how this particular one would prevent the commissioner from acting on the other eight functions in that timely manner.

If there is going to be a three or four-month delay as a result of this one around the annual plan, what precisely would prevent them from getting on with the job in that time with respect to the other eight functions? Are they going to wait for the annual plan before they start working on the other, because I am seriously having concerns about the commissioner we are appointing in this role if that is the case. There are other functions that they will be able to undertake in the meantime, so what exactly is it that prevents them from doing that while this amendment is being implemented?

The Hon. T.A. Franks interjecting:

The Hon. C. BONAROS: Yes, multitasking.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I thank the honourable member for her question. I think there are two things to consider here. One is the amount that is involved in the consultation that is being prescribed in the amendments. There is actually a fair bit of work involved in that, in contacting all the councils that are affected and all the other aspects that are being proposed in here. What it is really about is what the focus is of the commissioner. The focus should not be around starting to report before he or she has even started the work of the commissioner.

What it should be about is being out listening, looking at those issues that have already been identified and exploring how they impact local people, because we do know that there are some issues that have been identified. That is why the commissioner position is being called for. It is being called for by members of parliament, among others, as well as the community, who are particularly impacted by those cross-border issues.

It is about where we want the focus to be. Do we want the focus to be on getting a plan together in advance before hearing all of the issues from the local community and from local business, going through a process of very formalised consultation that is going to take a long time, or is it about building relationships, building relationships on our side of the border as well as building relationships across the other sides of our borders, particularly with the cross-border commissioners that exist in Victoria and New South Wales.

It really comes down to how much time we want the commissioner to be spending reporting and how much time we want the commissioner to be spending on actually being responsive, being able to react to the issues that arise, being able to get out there and let people know what his or her role is, so that they can come to the commissioner with the issues that they want resolved and then start going about the means needed to resolve them. It is about that kind of focus and where the priorities should be.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I did have a question for the minister about whether or not she has consulted with the member for Flinders on this matter, particularly with the Far West Coast Aboriginal Corporation. Has she consulted with those two entities?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Not specifically, no.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: When she says 'not specifically', does she mean not at all?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: As I think I answered a similar question when we were in question time a few weeks ago, this was set up as an election promise. It is a commitment that we made through long-term listening whilst we were in opposition to members of the community across the state. We were able, through our country shadow cabinets, to engage very frequently with the various communities and businesses across the state, and this is something that was called for by them. That is where the cross-border commissioner commitment has come from. That is why we would like to get on with it and actually start delivering for cross-border communities.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: The minister spoke about the commissioner wanting to get on with the job and listen to the community. Does the minister believe that the commissioner would not be listening whilst he or she is consulting with cross-border communities as per this amendment?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: As I said, the question comes back to where we want the focus to be, particularly in those early months. Do we want it to be in setting up a preconceived plan and then going out, or do we want it to be in establishing those relationships, in establishing relationships that will enable collaboration?

I think where this arises from is that, as I understand it, these amendments were based on the legislation that was used for the Kangaroo Island commissioner. The purpose of the KI commissioner was quite different. The purpose of the KI commissioner was particularly focused on infrastructure on Kangaroo Island and getting government services on Kangaroo Island. It was very much focused on funding and infrastructure.

It may well have been worthy, if you are going to be building something you go out to formal consultation, particularly to councils, because you have already established what it is you are going to be building and then you go out to consult on it. This role is very different. This role is about those relationships, those collaborations, working with other jurisdictions—which we have no power to bind—to be able to actually come up with appropriate outcomes for cross-border communities.

I think that is where the difference lies, and that is why a lot of these amendments actually do not work for the role that is a cross-border commissioner. Certainly, on some of the other amendments I will have something more to say about that. I think we should be able to think about specifically: if we had an annual plan in place it has to go out through consultation and then be approved by the Governor.

What would have happened in COVID? What would have happened during COVID with this annual plan? How would the commissioner, had he or she been in place at that time, have been able to be responsive, how would they have been able to be flexible because, according to these amendments, they would have had to go through that same consultation to change the plan? If we are talking about an annual plan, do we not want that to be the simplest, least red tape approach that we can get? Do we want it to be responsive to local communities or do we want it to be bogged down in red tape?

That leads me back to a question from an earlier response from the Leader of the Opposition in regard to the member for Mount Gambier, who she did acknowledge in her second reading speech had been a strong advocate for this. Is the Leader of the Opposition saying that in her consultation the member for Mount Gambier supported her amendments, or is she saying that despite wanting to have consultation as such a key part of this she cannot actually tell us what the outcome of her consultation was with one of the prime advocates for this role?

The Hon. C. BONAROS: With respect, this is ridiculous. Clearly, we have two members in this chamber who have had discussions with one member from another place. Perhaps we would like to haul him in here now and get an answer from him directly. There may be more of us who have had discussions with him. I acknowledge also that, in relation to the point the minister just made, we have had a couple of different versions of this amendment and I can say categorically that we had concerns about the first one. I am pleased the member saw fit to go away and address those concerns we had because we did think it was overly prescriptive.

Perhaps the member for Mount Gambier thought that was overly prescriptive and did not necessarily relay the same concerns in relation to this. But notwithstanding what he thought, it is irrelevant. We are here considering this amendment not the member for Mount Gambier. He can do that in his chamber and he can provide perhaps responses or his position in that chamber, not in here. As the Hon. Tammy Franks has pointed out, he is not the only regional member. There are other members who represent the regions who have an equal say in relation to where they stand on this issue.

We are not doing this for one member of parliament—unless there is something the minister would like to tell us about that one member of parliament and any discussions that have taken place with him that none of us are aware of. Perhaps we would like to elaborate on any discussions that happened with that particular member of parliament in the lead-up to this bill getting before us. It is absurd that we are having this discussion in this chamber around the views of one member of parliament—absolutely absurd.

I do not know if the minister provided this answer, perhaps I did not hear it. But if she did, or if she did not, could she confirm again what budget was set for this function, and is it more a case of us being concerned that we have not set aside enough money for the commissioner to undertake their role effectively? Could the minister elaborate again on the budgetary figures that were set for this position?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Before I do that, just to respond to the question, I am very happy to talk about discussions with the member for Mount Gambier.

The Hon. C. Bonaros: All of them? Want to talk about all of them—I'd be careful!

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Happy to talk about any and all discussions I have had with the member for Mount Gambier. We can talk about the food we enjoyed at the free barbecue last week, if you want to. However, I am advised, the member for Mount Gambier wants this not to be—

The Hon. C. Bonaros interjecting:

The CHAIR: Order!

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: The honourable member asked about my conversations with the member for Mount Gambier, so I am responding to her question. The answer is that he has indicated today that he does not support the amendments in regard to the annual plan that those opposite are putting forward. It is important that his view is not perhaps inadvertently misrepresented, which is why I was asking the question.

In terms of the budget, we have allocated $2 million over four years. My discussions with my Victorian counterpart in regard to the budget they have indicate that that should be a suitable amount. Of course, that was within the framework of the commissioner being able to get on with their job and not being bogged down in unnecessarily bureaucratic and proscriptive processes. If for some reason that amount is not sufficient because of additional bureaucratic processes, the problem would be with the bureaucratic processes rather than with the budget.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: The member for Mount Gambier's ears will well and truly be burning this afternoon. He has been the subject of a riveting debate. In the interests of time, I think we need to cut to the chase here. I am concerned that what we are seeing is a meal being made of an entree. I am not a good cook—the Hon. Tammy Franks can attest to that—but I do think that what we are seeing is something being whipped up out of nothing.

I do understand the Hon. Clare Scriven's concerns, and it is for that reason we made it very clear that we were not going to support the original amendments that were put forward by the Leader of the Opposition in this place, because we could see the potential for there to be some unintended consequences. I take at face value the leader's claims that she wants to ensure that taxpayers get good bang for their buck in terms of this role and is not trying to hold up the position.

What she has come back with, though, in terms of some revised amendments, I think strikes the right balance. I understand that it is the government's desire for this not to be amended at all and for it to go through as is, and I completely understand that, but I think what is being proposed is a fairly reasonable compromise. I do not think the sky is going to fall in if we agree to this.

I would be concerned if someone is appointed to this role who does not have the capacity to deal with scoping out a plan versus also beginning the work. That does not strike me as being terribly onerous, and I am keen to understand why that might be the case. My view is: let us move on with this. I know the minister says that she is very keen to get this happening and for it to be a priority. We in the Greens share that desire; we have always been supportive of this proposal. Indeed, my colleague the Hon. Tammy Franks has advocated previously that any such commissioner should reside in a regional community, and we think that is an important principle.

The idea of having some requirements in terms of the development of an annual plan and setting in place some consultation requirements I do not think is an outrageous suggestion. Obviously, Mr Bell will be a very important stakeholder, but there will be a range of others as well whom I envisage would be engaged with, and I think they are stipulated in the leader's amendment. So let's kind of move on, because I am concerned that this is, as the Hon. Connie Bonaros said, making a bit of a mountain out of a molehill—or a Mount Gambier out of a molehill; there has been a lot of mention of the Limestone Coast. So let's move on.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I can take on board the comments of the various members, but there are some other issues within the clause that we need to look at. Can the Leader of the Opposition explain why the Governor needs to approve, partially or in full, the annual plan?

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: It is my understanding that it is a formal way of setting government policy. It means that ministers are aware of the plan and what is required of their department, so in essence it binds the Public Service to deliver an outcome for a community, which is what I would have thought this bill should be all about.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Why does it have the provision to approve it partially or in full?

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: Because there may be some things that ministers become aware of and feel that they cannot support, but that is the prerogative of the government.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Will the cross-border commissioner be able to act on the annual plan before it has been approved by the Governor?

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: What is the definition of 'act on the plan'? One would imagine the commissioner should still be able to, as the Hon. Connie Bonaros points out, deliver the other eight functions. Also, I see that there would be no issue with the commissioner continuing to have dialogue with cross-border communities and to consult with cross-border communities.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Can the Leader of the Opposition explain why the amendment seeks to bind the commonwealth?

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: The advice I received is it does not bind the commonwealth; it is purely a reporting function. It is the state authority that must endeavour, as far as practicable, to act consistently with the plan or provision. In regard to the commonwealth, it is purely a reporting function.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: There are two aspects, one the member may be correct in where it suggests in amendment No. 2, 3B—Act binds Crown, but I am advised there is a further section in the third set of amendments which is identical to an earlier set of amendments in terms of, if the commissioner is satisfied that the government agency has failed to act consistently or to cooperate with the plan or other body or has frustrated proposals, they may report to the minister or Premier and forward copies to both houses of parliament and request they be there laid.

That is in regard to binding the commonwealth through a public reporting mechanism and it particularly refers to the definitions we are currently discussing where a 'government agency' means, under paragraph (b) 'an agency or instrumentality of the Crown in right of the commonwealth'.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: Again, the advice is it is just a reporting function. The commissioner may make a report and may forward copies of such a report. It does not bind the commonwealth; it is just purely a reporting function.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Why else would one report unless one was seeking to bind the Crown? If you are talking about reporting on the Crown not adhering to what the requests were, why would you have such a public reporting mechanism if you are not seeking to bind the Crown?

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: Purely because then I think it allows this chamber and the other chamber the ability to read that report and act on that report, if it chooses to do so.

The Hon. C. BONAROS: I am not sure where this line of questioning is going. We have had advice that this does not bind the commonwealth in the way that the minister would like us to believe that it does. I think the rest of us are satisfied with that advice. Clearly, the mover has sought advice about the effect of her amendment, and the advice is that it just does not bind the commonwealth in the way that the minister would like us to believe it does. I am going to take that advice over some suggestion that there is something else at play here binding the commonwealth. In any event, what we do know is that we simply cannot bind the commonwealth.

The Hon. C.M. Scriven interjecting:

The Hon. C. BONAROS: We cannot, and I do not think there is any intention here to bind. Perhaps the minister would like to say for the record, so we are all on the same page: (a) on the part of the mover, there is no intention to bind the commonwealth and (b) more importantly, we cannot bind the commonwealth. For whatever reason, the provision has been drafted the way it has because that is the way it ought to be drafted. That is the advice we have. I am not sure where we are going with this.

The CHAIR: Again, minister, I am keen to put the amendment when you have no more questions.

The Hon. C. BONAROS: I have one question. Given that we are drafting legislation in the interests of accountability and transparency and openness and consultation with the community, precisely what part of this do we find offensive in terms of requiring consultation to go beyond the scope of just the minister that is responsible for this legislation and not other ministers or other persons or other bodies that the commissioner actually deems appropriate to consult with? They may deem that there is nobody else appropriate to consult with or any member of a house of parliament, other than the one from Mount Gambier, or any other council. Precisely what part of that do we find offensive in all this?

The CHAIR: I think the question is directed at you, minister.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: We were still getting advice on the previous question. I am advised that, while this is considered a transparency measure, it would actually have no effect. The question then arises why we would put into the bill something that has no effect.

The Hon. C. BONAROS: With respect, it would have no effect if the minister responsible or the commissioner chose to ignore it, but if it is there and it is a requirement that they do this, how on earth could it have no effect? There is a requirement there that the commissioner is to consult with councils, if they think that is appropriate, members of parliament who are affected or any other minister or person. How does that not have any effect?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Sorry, we are talking at cross-purposes. I was answering the previous question in regard to binding the Crown. As I mentioned, I was getting advice and it was fine to proceed with answering other questions. But I think it is appropriate to receive advice, which I have now received, which is why I pose that question to the mover of the amendment: why would we put something into legislation that would not have any effect?

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: Because I think it is about being transparent and it is about allowing this chamber to have some oversight if the commissioner or indeed a department is not, as is stated, reasonably satisfied that a particular agent has failed to act consistently. I think that indeed this chamber should be made aware of that as a measure of transparency. I think the members of the public should be made aware of that as a matter of transparency.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: For that transparency that would be included at the end of the year in the annual report, so that would certainly exist, which leads to my next question of: why is the mover of the amendment not wanting a memorandum of understanding (an MOU) to be used, which is the mechanism that is used with other jurisdictions that have a cross-border commissioner? It is far more flexible, it is far more able to be responsive, and is certainly the preferred instrument of myself as minister.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: Cross-border commissioners in other jurisdictions are not legislated for.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Why does that change the appropriateness of a memorandum of understanding?

The Hon. C. BONAROS: Minister, with respect, can I just clarify your question just then because you talked about your preference. Were we actually suggesting that we should be following your preference as the minister above the views of this chamber when we are drafting this amendment? You have just said that was your preference. Does that mean that the rest of us do not count? Should we just pass the bill without any debate at all? It can be your preference, but it is ultimately the decision of this chamber what we will end up with. Unless our legislative making process has changed overnight—and I am not aware of it—how on earth is your preference more important than the will of this parliament?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I find that statement quite remarkable.

The Hon. C. Bonaros: Well, you said your preference.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Sorry, if I may finish, I think I have the floor. My question was: why would we not use our memorandum of understanding? I stated that that is my preference because of its flexibility and its ability to be responsive. The fact that we are having this debate here obviously means that the will of the chamber will prevail, so to suggest otherwise is quite remarkable.

I think it is important for members to understand what other mechanisms are available, which in my view would be far more responsive, far more flexible and far more appropriate for a cross-border commissioner role. Of course, it is entirely open to other members to have a different view, but my question to the mover of the amendment is why she considers that this legislative mechanism for the annual plan would be preferable to a responsive memorandum of understanding, which is what is used elsewhere?

The CHAIR: The honourable Leader of the Opposition, it sounds to me like this question has been asked a number of times. You can give an answer but I do intend to put the amendment.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: Thank you, Mr Chairman. I have nothing further to add except to say that this part of the amendment is in essence to deliver an outcome or ensure that an outcome is delivered for a community and that there is a mechanism that if there are situations where that outcome is being prevented, for want of a better term, that there is a mechanism that the commissioner can report to this house and the other place to ensure that there is a degree of transparency.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Could the mover of the amendment indicate whether under the annual plan it can be amended at any time, and whether the consultation and other processes will need to be followed to do so?

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I am quite intrigued by the focus on the South-East, and I seek some assurances at this point from the minister, given we did jump clause 1. I am interested to know how the other communities, other than the South-East, will be addressed and responded to, given there seems to be a very heavy focus here on the South-East.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: This is the minister's own annual plan we are talking about here. In terms of my amendment it is purely the drafting of an annual plan, that step through the minimum requirements of consultation for a community on the annual plan. It is the minister's annual plan. I am purely adding that there needs to be a minimum requirement of consultation with the cross-border community within that plan.

The CHAIR: Would the minister be able to answer the Hon. Ms Franks' question first, while it is fresh?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: This is fresh, because the question has not been answered as to whether, under these amendments, the annual plan—the commissioner's annual plan, in consultation with the minister—can be amended and, if so, does it need to go through all the processes that are outlined in this amendment?

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: This amendment is just in terms of the annual plan, so I think it speaks for itself.

The CHAIR: The Hon. Ms Franks, would you like to repeat your question to the minister?

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Thank you, Chair. Noting that we did jump clause 1, how will all cross-border communities be addressed? For example, will there be more than one office provided outside metropolitan Adelaide: one near the WA border, one near the Northern Territory border, one near the Victorian border, and one near the New South Wales border? Is this what is envisaged? Will those facilities be made available? How will this person be able to undertake their duties in a way that is not simply focused on one cross-border community?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I thank the honourable member for her question. As she would be aware, we have announced that the office will be based in Mount Gambier. It was important that it was not based in metropolitan Adelaide, and that is why we have announced a location. In fact, with the various people I have spoken to in a number of cross-border areas, they said, 'Well, it needs to be somewhere,' and they are happy that it is not going to be in metropolitan Adelaide.

I have spoken with the Victorian cross-border commissioner, in particular, in regard to how he addresses the various borders that Victoria shares; we have had some early discussions. For the information of members, he has, if you like, temporary office space in their equivalent of the regional development associations, where he will advertise that he is available to speak with people.

There are a number of other options, and that will be developed by the commissioner and his or her staff going forward. I envisage that there would be regular what we sometimes call clinics or sometimes call outreach. There are a number of different ways it can be done, but it is absolutely important that all our cross-border communities are able to access the commissioner. Of course, there will also be online options, telephone, all those sorts of things.

I am very keen that the commissioner is also visible, not in the sense of having a permanent office—which would not necessarily be applicable or the most effective use of resources—but instead regularly travelling to various cross-border communities, regularly in conversations with local organisations, businesses and individuals, so that they are able to work with the other jurisdictions to iron out the issues that have, for so long, been difficult for cross-border members of our community to address.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I ask the minister what provisions have been made for the cross-border commissioner to be able to access the APY lands without a permit?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Once we get the Cross Border Commissioner Bill passed, assuming that is the will of this chamber and the other one, we will be able to start addressing those issues. At the moment, we do not have a bill passed, so we are unable to start any of the work. We want to get it moving.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Why was it not in this bill that the cross-border commissioner does not need a permit to travel to all the communities without having to go through, let's just say it, some bureaucracy, some understandable bureaucracy? In fact, there have been commonwealth and state agencies refused access to these communities before. So why was it not provided in this piece of legislation by the minister that the cross-border commissioner could actually travel to every single part of this state, in the legislation provided for this commissioner to exist?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: That was not raised in any of the briefings that I or my office gave to any members in this place. I would certainly have been happy to hear that when I briefed the members of the Greens. It is not an amendment that has been put forward, from what is on the books. I am happy to look at what would be the best arrangements, if and when we get this bill through.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Just for the record, this is not actually my portfolio, but some of the issues that the cross-border commissioner will deal with are in my portfolio. I raised a question earlier in this debate about whether or not the Far West Aboriginal Corporation had been contacted and consulted, and in fact we did raise that, apparently, in the Greens briefing on this matter and we were told that it was not important.

So I am not sure that the minister has actually done her proper consultations to get us to this point where the bill is not simply an election promise made with one community in mind, rather than all communities in mind. With that, I note that the minister has also made much mileage of the Leader of the Opposition's consultations. Quite honestly, they seem to have been far more diligent than the minister's own.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I think I was present at the briefing with the Greens party, with the Hon. Rob Simms. I cannot say that I recall it being raised, and I certainly would not say that such a thing was not important. I could press this and ask the member to withdraw, but I do not think that is necessary—

The Hon. T.A. Franks interjecting:

The CHAIR: Order! The Hon. Ms Franks, you will have your opportunity.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Thank you. As I say, I do not think I would ever respond to someone by saying, 'That's not important.' I am very conscious of the need to address cross-border issues all around our state, and I think I have indicated that we will be very keen to discuss with the commissioner, when he or she is appointed, if we get this bill through, about how we can best make sure that all cross-border communities are represented in their dealings with him or her.

Ayes 10

Noes 7

Majority 3

Bonaros, C. Centofanti, N.J. (teller) Franks, T.A.
Game, S.L. Girolamo, H.M. Hood, D.G.E.
Lee, J.S. Lensink, J.M.A. Simms, R.A.
Wade, S.G.
Bourke, E.S. Hanson, J.E. Maher, K.J.
Martin, R.B. Ngo, T.T. Scriven, C.M. (teller)
Wortley, R.P.
Curran, L.A. Hunter, I.K. Pangallo, F.
Pnevmatikos, I.

New clauses 3A and 3B.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: I move:

Amendment No 2 [Centofanti–3]—

Page 2, after line 12—After clause 3 insert:

3A—Interaction with other Acts

Except where the contrary intention is expressed in this or any other Act, this Act is in addition to and does not limit or derogate from the provisions of any other Act.

3B—Act binds Crown

This Act binds the Crown in right of this State and also, so far as the legislative power of the State extends, the Crown in all its other capacities, but not so as to impose any criminal liability on the Crown.

This amendment will add clause 3A, which provides that the bill is to work in conjunction with and does not limit other laws. This amendment is particularly needed in relation to the proposed amendment No. 5 in my name regarding the annual plan and the responsibilities placed on ministers, state authorities and government agencies because of the myriad other acts that place responsibilities on them also.

The addition of clause 3B ensures that the Crown is liable under the act, so this amendment is important in relation to, again, amendment No. 5 regarding the power to require information. In amendment No. 5, 6B directs the provision of information from Crown agencies, so clause 3B is necessary for the act to bind the Crown.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I indicate that the government realises that this is linked to the other amendment. We have said everything that needs to be said. We do not support it, but we understand the numbers are with it.

New clauses inserted.

Clause 4.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: I move:

Amendment No 3 [Centofanti–3]—

Page 3, after line 1 [clause 4(3)]—Before paragraph (a) insert:

(aa) must primarily reside in a cross border community; and

This amendment is present to ensure that the new cross-border commissioner primarily resides in a cross-border community. We understand that the government has indicated that the office of the commissioner will be based in the South-East in Mount Gambier, and we welcome that the office will be in a cross-border community. We are confident that the commissioner will understand and appreciate that there are many cross-border communities in our state. In fact, South Australia borders five other states. We expect that, despite being situated in Mount Gambier, all of these communities will be at the forefront of the commissioner's mind.

As mentioned in my second reading speech, we on this side of the chamber believe it is lived experience that counts. The government in its bill has legislated that the commissioner 'should have a detailed understanding of the issues affecting cross border communities', and we completely agree. However, we also believe that the commissioner should, during their term, primarily reside within a cross-border community. I think it is fair to say—and I said it in my second reading speech—that country people in cross-border communities would have an expectation that the commissioner would reside within a cross-border community, and I think they would be comforted by the amendment getting support from this chamber.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I rise on behalf of the Greens to express support for the amendment. We have long been of the view that the individual involved should reside in the regions. Indeed, the cobbler might make the shoe but it is only the wearer who knows where it pinches, and it makes sense for someone who is going to be dealing with these issues that are so important to regional communities to actually be in a regional community and for that to be their primary base.

The Hon. C. BONAROS: I indicate for the record that we absolutely support the intent of this amendment. I have spoken to the mover and also the minister potentially about any unintended consequences that we might have. I will start with the intent. The intent is we think that they ought to reside in the regions. We do not want to appoint someone from metropolitan Adelaide to be undertaking this work.

I am wanting to raise for the record the concern that we have around unintended consequences of this amendment insofar as it relates to somebody for some reason having to, for a prolonged period of time, perhaps leave a region and reside somewhere else. I think the example that we discussed was potentially, for example, a family member receiving medical care based in Adelaide as opposed to the regions, and having to temporarily relocate to Adelaide as opposed to residing during that period in a region, and whether this could have any ramifications in that case.

It is whether there could be any contractual issues, employment issues or questions raised about whether they are sticking to the letter of the law by residing where the legislation is saying that they need to reside for the purposes of undertaking their work, or whether they would be in breach of those provisions by leaving and living somewhere else, albeit temporarily. If we can resolve those issues—and during discussions we were trying to work out how we could do this—I think 'should' does send a clear message regarding the intent, that is, to appoint somebody from the regions in this role.

What is important here—and I do not think we need to get bogged down necessarily over this provision—is to place on the record what everybody's intention is insofar as from where we expect this commissioner to be appointed. If we can get a reassurance one way or another that 'must' is not problematic, that 'should' will send the same message in terms of the intent, then we can find somewhere to land.

We do not want to cause any unintended consequences as a result of this and give rise to contractual disputes or being in breach of the legislation because somebody has for some reason had to reside somewhere else for a prolonged period of time, which means they would not be following the letter of the law as prescribed by this place. If we can have that clarified for the record, our position is certainly that we support the intent of this amendment.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I move:

Amendment No 1 [PrimIndRegDev–2]—

Amendment to Amendment No 3 [Centofanti—3]—Clause 4, page 3, after line 1—

In inserted paragraph (aa) delete 'must primarily' and substitute 'should'

This is to, as the Hon. Ms Bonaros just outlined, replace the words in the amendment 'must primarily' (being 'must primarily reside'), with the word 'should'. Concerns have already been put very well by the Hon. Ms Bonaros, and I would certainly like to reiterate our concerns in that regard. If somebody, for example, has to be in Adelaide for medical treatment, or perhaps their partner does, for an extended period of time, we do not want them feeling concerned that they might lose their job because of contractual issues based around this amendment.

The other issue is that the term 'primarily' is not defined, so it is very much open to interpretation. I absolutely want the cross-border commissioner residing in a cross-border community. As outlined, the office will be located in Mount Gambier. It would be quite difficult, though I guess not impossible, to be not residing in that cross-border community. In opposition I was certainly very critical of the former government because, when they were called to have a regional representative on the emergency management committee (however it was termed at the time), they chose someone who, whilst very good—he is now the CE of my department—did not reside in the regional area.

The intent is absolutely to have the person reside in a regional cross-border community. I think saying that the commissioner should reside in a cross-border community sends that message very loudly, but it does avoid any unintended consequences, such as those the Hon. Ms Bonaros has outlined, and there may well be others as well.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: I rise to indicate that the opposition will support the minister's amendment to my amendment. I am heartened to hear from the minister that the intent is for the commissioner to reside in a cross-border community. That is what members of cross-border communities expect, and that is what they should have delivered. I take the point of unintended consequences. We can have an argument and a debate about the term 'primarily', but I will not. Suffice to say we are happy to support the amendment: the change from 'must' to 'should'.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: We will also support the amendment from the minister. In the spirit of consensus, we are happy to get on board.

Amendment to amendment carried; amendment as amended carried; clause as amended passed.

Clause 5 passed.

Clause 6.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: I move:

Amendment No 4 [Centofanti–3]—

Page 4, line 3 [clause 6(g)]—Delete 'in consultation with the Minister' and substitute:

in accordance with section 6A

This is consequential to amendment No. 5. It is amending clause 6, which is the clause that states the functions of the commissioner. Specifically, it amends clause 6(g) by deleting the words 'in consultation with the Minister' and substituting them with the words 'in accordance with section 6A'.

Amendment carried; clause as amended passed.

New clauses 6A and 6B.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: I move:

Amendment No 5 [Centofanti–3]—

Page 4, after line 7—After clause 6 insert:

6A—Annual plan

(1) The annual plan prepared by the Commissioner must set out—

(a) the proposals of the Commissioner in relation to the provision of infrastructure, the effective delivery of services and other matters relating to cross border communities; and

(b) the priorities that the Commissioner recommends be pursued in order to implement the proposals; and

(c) strategies for consulting and engaging with persons or bodies whose cooperation is required for the effective implementation of the proposals,

and may set out any other matters the Commissioner thinks fit.

(2) After preparing a draft of the annual plan, the Commissioner—

(a) must undertake consultation in relation to the draft annual plan with—

(i) any council that the Commissioner thinks will be directly affected by any proposal in the plan; and

(ii) any members of the House of Assembly whose electorates include areas affected by proposals in the plan; and

(iii) any Minister or other person or body the Commissioner thinks fit; and

(b) must, publish a draft of the annual plan on a website determined by the Minister and invite interested persons to make written representations on the draft plan within a specified period (which must be not less than 3 weeks).

(3) The Commissioner must, when finalising the annual plan, have regard to any representations made by persons or bodies consulted under subsection (2)(a) or by members of the public in response to the invitation published under subsection (2)(b).

(4) The Commissioner must publish—

(a) the finalised annual plan; and

(b) subject to subsection (5)—a list of all persons and bodies that made representations in relation to the draft plan and a summary of those representations,

on a website determined by the Minister.

(5) If a person or body making a representation indicated to the Commissioner that the representation was being made in confidence, the Commissioner must not publish any details under subsection (4)(b) in relation to that representation.

(6) The Governor may, by notice in the Gazette, adopt (wholly or partially) the annual plan published by the Commissioner under subsection (4).

(7) If the Governor publishes a notice adopting the annual plan, or provisions of an annual plan—

(a) a State authority must endeavour, as far as practicable, to act consistently with the plan or provisions so adopted; and

(b) if the Commissioner is reasonably satisfied that a government agency has failed to act consistently or to cooperate with the plan or provisions, or that the actions of any other person or body have frustrated proposals included in the plan or provisions or are otherwise likely to affect the implementation of the plan or provisions—

(i) the Commissioner may make a report on the matter to the responsible Minister and to the Premier; and

(ii) the Commissioner may forward copies of any such report to the Speaker of the House of Assembly and the President of the Legislative Council with a request that they be laid before their respective Houses.

(8) A function of the Commissioner under subsection (7)(b) must not be delegated.

6B—Power to require information

The Commissioner may, by written notice given to a person who is an officer or employee of a State authority, require the person to give the Commissioner, within a reasonable time specified in the notice, information in the possession of the State authority that the Commissioner requires for the performance of the Commissioner's functions under this Act.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Again, the government does not support this amendment because it adds bureaucracy and red tape and will slow everything down, but we appreciate that the chamber has a different view. I just state that for the record.

New clauses inserted.

Clauses 7 to 10 passed.

Clause 11.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: I move:

Amendment No 6 [Centofanti–3]—

Page 4, line 32 [clause 11(1)]—Delete 'section' and substitute 'Act'

This amendment is consequential to amendment No. 5 [Centofanti-3], which proposes the insertion of subsection (8), which says that the commissioner must not delegate a function under subsection (7)(b).

Amendment carried; clause as amended passed.

Clauses 12 and 13 passed.

New clause 13A.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: I move:

Amendment No 7 [Centofanti–3]—

Page 5, after line 31—After clause 13 insert:

13A—Review of Act

(1) The Minister must cause an independent review of the operation of this Act to be conducted, and a report on the review to be prepared and submitted to the Minister—

(a) after this Act has been in operation for a period of 2 years; and

(b) at the end of each period of 5 years thereafter.

(2) The Minister must cause a copy of a report submitted under subsection (1) to be laid before both Houses of Parliament within 6 sitting days after receiving the report.

This amendment inserts a requirement for an independent review of the operation of this act. This has become a reasonably standard addition to legislation. An independent review provides an opportunity to assess whether the intent of the act is being achieved and to consider if there are areas for improvement.

I note the Hon. Frank Pangallo has a set of amendments to my amendment relating to a review in three years rather than two years and that the minister has 12 sitting days not six sitting days in which to lay the report of the review before both houses of parliament after receiving the report. On behalf of the opposition, I indicate that we will be supporting both of these amendments to the review process.

The Hon. C. BONAROS: I will be moving the amendments on behalf of the Hon. Mr Pangallo. I do not know if you want to me to do that now.

The CHAIR: I will hear from the minister first and then I will come to you to make comment. I will hear from the Hon. Mr Simms after you have moved those amendments.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: The government will not be supporting this amendment. The purpose of the cross-border commissioner is to achieve outcomes, and it is those outcomes on which he or she will be judged. Indeed, the performance of the cross-border commissioner as a concept, if you like, will be judged on the outcomes for cross-border communities.

I am advised that, whilst the legislation to establish the Kangaroo Island commissioner did have such a review of the act, other commissioner-type roles do not have a review of the act. My understanding is that that would be for the same reason: we want to assess the outcomes of the role rather than revisiting the act through a formal review process. I am advised that the Small Business Commissioner legislation does not have such a review provision, nor does the Skills Commissioner, nor the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity, nor the Commissioner for Public Sector Employment.

That is my advice. I think it is because of the type of role that this legislation establishes. It is establishing a role and within that there are performance outcomes that are expected, which is what I would expect the commissioner to be judged upon rather than reviewing the act at this time. I certainly would support, if there is to be such a review, that it is in the terms of the amendment filed by the Hon. Frank Pangallo. But just to restate: we want outcomes rather than reviews.

The Hon. C. BONAROS: On behalf of the Hon. Mr Pangallo, I move:

Amendment No 1 [Pangallo–2]—

Amendment to Amendment No 7 [Centofanti—3]—New clause, page 5, after line 31—

In inserted section 13A(1)(a)—delete '2 years' and substitute '3 years'

I have to say, I find the response from the Minister quite astounding that the government will not be supporting this amendment, which really has become a standard clause in so many of the bills that we pass in this place each and every day. I have inserted review provisions umpteen times in this place and I cannot think of one single occasion where a review provision like this has not been supported by the government, or the opposition in fact.

If the minister was actually concerned about those annual plans that we have just discussed, this would be the ultimate opportunity for those to be reviewed. The reason we have changed two to three is that what we have found over the years in this place is that three is a more reasonable time frame in terms of allowing the establishment of a role and then a period of it functioning before you actually undertake that review. It does not undermine the role of the commissioner in any way whatsoever.

What we know is in fact that successive governments have appointed retired judges or whatever the case may be to undertake these reviews to ensure that the intent of the legislation is actually being fulfilled to identify any shortcomings of the legislation or any problems with the legislation, but certainly there is no intention here. There is no conspiracy to undo or undermine the role of the commissioner. We just want to make sure that the legislation is working effectively, as was intended by parliament. That is the role of a review.

Again, for the record, I am gobsmacked that the government would say that we do not or should not have a review in this case just because we have not passed one in other pieces of legislation. If we go through the statute books I think you will find that it has become a very standard clause and it serves a very important function in terms of reporting back to the remainder of parliament as to how a particular piece of legislation or the role of a commissioner—whatever the case may be—is actually functioning. That is an accountability and transparency measure, and if there is anything wrong with that then it will be highlighted.

The Return to Work scheme that was introduced in this place in 2014 or 2015 had a review act very similar to this and Mr Mansfield undertook that review. We know also that governments can choose to ignore the findings of those reviews at their own peril. That happens all the time as well, but at least the rest of us get to understand and appreciate what is or is not working in a piece of legislation as a result of this in a depoliticised process. That is the intention of having one of these reviews inserted in here.

It is an independent review; it is not an annual report. They serve very different functions. It gives to the rest of us the reassurance we need as to whether a piece of legislation is indeed functioning effectively or not.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: We are supportive of the amendment being moved by the Hon. Connie Bonaros on behalf of the Hon. Frank Pangallo. Initially, we were concerned that maybe two years did not give enough of a lead time to the commissioner, but three years does seem like a reasonable compromise, so on that basis we are happy to support it.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: As I mentioned, that compromise position that the Hon. Mr Simms refers to is preferable to the original amendment, but I would just like to place on the record that one of our concerns is that such a review could be used as a pretext to try to abolish the cross-border commissioner. I appreciate that may not be the concern of other members—they may not think that is a potential impact of it.

Certainly, the government is very supportive of reviews of many other acts, and we have inserted such provisions in various forms, the difference being that such a provision does not exist, according to my advice, in any of the acts that establish a role such as a commissioner: not the Small Business Commissioner, not the Skills Commissioner, which was established under the former government, not the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity and not the Commissioner for Public Sector Employment. So it is a different sort of purpose for an act and that is my understanding of why such a review process is not in there, but of course I will be guided by the council.

The Hon. C. BONAROS: The minister forces me to respond, because that is an absolutely laughable response we have just received in relation to potentially abolishing the role of commissioner. I advise the minister, then, to appoint the independent reviewer very carefully. Perhaps do not make a political appointment, but ensure they are truly independent and that they undertake that role as was intended. It is laughable to suggest that an independent reviewer would have some other agenda in in terms of undertaking a review that could potentially result in the outcomes the minister has just described in this place.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I will move on, but I want to correct the record. I did not suggest the reviewer would have an alternative agenda. My concern is that the outcome of a review could be used on that basis. However, we do not want to get bogged down. I think we are all happy to move on and vote, given that we know what the outcome of this particular vote will be.

Amendment to amendment carried.

The Hon. C. BONAROS: On behalf of the Hon. Mr Pangallo, I move:

Amendment No 2 [Pangallo–2]—

Amendment to Amendment No 7 [Centofanti—3]—New clause, page 5, after line 31—

In inserted section 13A(2)—delete '6 sitting days' and substitute '12 sitting days'

As has already been highlighted, this simply extends the reporting days from six to 12 to ensure the minister has ample time to provide the report to parliament.

Amendment to amendment carried; new clause as amended inserted.

Remaining clause (14) and title passed.

Bill reported with amendment.

Third Reading

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (17:08): I move:

That this bill be now read a third time.

Bill read a third time and passed.