Bills Digest 162 1996-97 Industry, Science and Tourism Legislation Amendment Bill 1997


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WARNING:
This Digest was prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments. This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.

CONTENTS

Passage History

Industry, Science and Tourism Legislation Amendment Bill 1997

Date Introduced: 26 March 1997
House: House of Representatives
Portfolio: Industry, Science and Tourism
Commencement: The amendments to the Science and Industry Research Act 1949 commence on 1 July 1997. The other amendments outlined in this Digest commence on Royal Assent.

Purpose

The major amendments proposed by the Bill:

  • alter the procedure for making and terminating appointment's to the Australian Science and Technology Council by according the Minister rather than the Governor-General, the power to make and terminate appointment and
  • provide for the removal of the current CSIRO research management structure under which CSIRO's research divisions were grouped into Institutes.

Background

As there is no central theme to the Bill, a brief background to the major amendments is contained in the Main Provisions section of this Digest.

Main Provisions

Amendments to the Australian Science and Technology Council Act 1978

Section 5 of the Australian Science and Technology Council Act 1978 sets out the functions of the Australian Science and Technology Council (the Council). The functions include: to investigate and furnish information and advice to the Government on matters relating to science and technology, including the advancement of scientific knowledge and the fostering of scientific and technological innovation in industry. The effect of items 5 and 6 of Schedule 1 is to add engineering to the Council's functions.

Section 10 of the Australian Science and Technology Council Act 1978 deals with the membership of the Council. The membership of the Council consists of a Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson and not less than 3, and not more than 13 other members,. The effect of items 7-9 of Schedule 1 is to alter the procedure for making appointments to the Council by according the Minister with the Prime Minister's approval, rather than the Governor-General, the power to make appointments. In addition, Council members will hold office on terms and conditions determined by the Minister rather than the Governor-General.

Items 11 and 12 of Schedule 1 alter the procedure for terminating the appointment of Council members by according the Minister rather than the Governor-General with the power to terminate appointments.

Remarks: The rationale given by the Minister in the Second Reading Speech to the Bill for the amendments divesting the Governor-General of his/her power in respect of appointments and terminations is that:

In addition, the procedure for making appointments to the Council will be made more efficient. The previous arrangement of requiring appointments by the Governor-General was overly time consuming and complex. Appointments to the Council will now be made by the responsible Minister, with the approval of the Prime Minister. No loss of status is implied.

It may be remarked that the proposed amendments in respect of appointments and terminations reflect the reality of current procedures. It is a fiction to believe that the Governor-General acts independently under the current procedures. The Governor-General acts on the advice of the Minister through the Federal Executive Council.

Amendments to the Australian Tourist Commission Act 1987

Item 15 of Schedule 1 of the Bill repeals subsection 14(3) of the Australian Tourist Commission Act 1987.

Remarks: Section 14 of the Australian Tourist Commission Act 1987 deals with the term of appointment of Board directors. Subsection 14(3) currently provides:

(3)An appointed member ceases to hold office on attaining 65 years of age.

The effect of the amendment can be said to be two - fold. Firstly, it removes a discriminatory provision, and secondly brings the term of appointment section into line with the appointment provision (section 13). Prior to 1991, section 13 contained an age restriction provision. The Arts, Sport, the Environment, Tourism and Territories Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1991 removed this restriction.

Item 16 of Schedule 1 repeals subsection 42(3) of the Australian Tourist Commission Act 1987.

Remarks: Section 42 of the Australian Tourist Commission Act 1987 deals with the engagement of employees by the Board of Directors of the Australian Tourist Commission. Subsection 42(3) currently provides:

(3) A person shall not be employed by the Board on terms and conditions more favourable than those applying to the Managing Director.

The effect of the amendment is to allow a person employed by the Board of Directors of the Australian Tourist Commission to be employed on terms and conditions more favourable than applying to the Managing Director.

It is not possible to independently verify the rationale provided for the above amendment. To do so would require an examination of the departments financial records. However, the rationale given by the Minister is logical. The Minister states:

The business environment in which the Australian Tourist Commission Act 1987 operates has changed considerably since 1987 when this legislation was introduced. In some countries where the Australian Tourist Commission has overseas offices, the high cost of living has resulted in substantially higher wages in Australian dollar terms than those prevailing in Australia. The amendment will remove any anomaly, in relation to the conditions of employment for overseas staff, by removing the limitation preventing employment on terms and conditions more favourable than those of the Managing Director.

Amendment to the Australian Tourist Commission (Transitional Provisions) Act 1987

Item 17 of Schedule 1 repeals the Australian Tourist Commission (Transitional Provisions) Act 1987.

Remarks: The Australian Tourist Commission (Transitional Provisions) Act 1987 provided for the continuing appointment of the then Managing Director of the Australian Tourist Commission and repealed existing Acts dealing with the pre - 1987 Australian Tourist Commission. The Australian Tourist Commission (Transitional Provisions) Act 1987 is redundant.

Amendment to the Science and Industry Research Act 1949

Section 9AB of the Science and Industry Research Act 1949 provides that officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) carrying out scientific research shall be organised into Institutes established by the CSIRO Board. The number of Institutes must not exceed 6 and the Chief Executive may direct an Institute to carry out such other work as he/she determines. In effect section 9AB has determined the management research structure of the CSIRO. Item 24 of Schedule 1 repeals section 9AB.

Remarks:

The rationale given by the Minister in the Second Reading Speech to the Bill for the repeal of section 9AB of the Science and Industry Research Act 1949 is to:

... reflect the new framework developed by the Review of CSIRO's Management Structure and Performance. The repeal of the section will remove the old CSIRO research management structure under which CSIRO's research divisions were grouped into Institutes. The repeal will enable a new research management system that clearly refocusses research delivery activities on identified industry, economic or national benefit sectors and enables CSIRO's various research divisions to work in full alliance, free of the limiting rigidity's of the Institute structure as identified during the CSIRO review.

The reference in the Minister's rationale for the proposed amendment to the Review of CSIRO's Management Structure and Performance is a reference to a review commenced in December 1994 by the Board of the CSIRO. The review was undertaken with the objectives of 'increasing CSIRO's ability to identify the needs of its customers, to focus its research to meet those needs, and to introduce more powerful mechanisms to draw together the best teams from across the Organisation to undertake this research.'(1)

A discussion paper, Evaluation of CSIRO's Management and Structure, was released in April 1995. The then Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, the Hon. Peter Cook, announced in December 1995 that he had been advised by the Board of the CSIRO of the outcomes of the review. The Minister's announcement contained a summary of the outcomes of the review, which included:

  • that customer involvement in CSIRO's priority determination processes be strengthened at strategic and sectoral levels;
  • that CSIRO strengthens its focus on meeting customer expectations, particularly in regard to understanding customer needs, delivery to schedule and budget, and more professional marketing and contractual negotiation;
  • that the formal Institute structure be discontinued;
  • that Divisions be less rigidly structured than in the past, with capacity for pragmatic allocation of resources in accordance with need and efficiency;
  • that expectations and accountabilities for communication by research leaders and managers at all levels be clearly defined and applied; and
  • that there be a rigorous analysis of the time spent by research scientists/engineers and research managers on doing research and interacting with clients, and on undertaking management, and how the balance might be improved by more effective research support, particularly provision of higher level of profession skills.(2)

Endnotes

  1. Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, News Release, 6 December 1995.
  2. Ibid.

Contact Officer and Copyright Details

Ian Ireland
26 June 1997
Bills Digest Service
Information and Research Services

This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine whether the Bill has been enacted and, if so, whether the subsequent Act reflects further amendments.

IRS staff are available to discuss the paper's contents with Senators and Members and their staff but not with members of the public.

ISSN 1328-8091
© Commonwealth of Australia 1997

Except to the extent of the uses permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without the prior written consent of the Parliamentary Library, other than by Members of the Australian Parliament in the course of their official duties.

Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1997.

This page was prepared by the Parliamentary Library, Commonwealth of Australia
Last updated: 14 July 1997


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