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Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Commission Amendment Bill 1997
House: House of Representatives
Portfolio: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Commencement: The substantive amendments
described below commence on Royal Assent.
The Bill amends
provisions in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Commission Act 1989 (the Principal Act) relating to the
disposal of interests in ATSIC funded property. The Bill also
provides that certain of the Commission's ancillary powers can be
delegated to Regional Councils.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Commission (the Commission) is the principal Commonwealth agency
concerned with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs. It is
responsible for policy-formulation and for administering a wide
range of Commonwealth programs for Indigenous Australians.
The Commission also has a representative arm. In
1996-97, this arm consisted of 35 Regional Councils around
Australia. Regional Councillors are elected by Indigenous
Australians. Regional Councils formulate regional plans to improve
the social, economic and cultural life of local Indigenous people
and make decisions about ATSIC expenditure in their regions.
Regional Councillors elect 16 Commissioners-one for each ATSIC
zone.(1) Another Commissioner is elected from the Torres Strait and
two Commissioners are appointed by the Minister for Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander Affairs.(2) The Commissioners make up the
ATSIC Board which is the main policy-making body in Indigenous
affairs and the main source of advice to government. The Board also
allocates funding according to national priorities and budgets.
Section 21 of the Principal Act deals with
restrictions on the right to dispose of an interest in land or
certain other property which has been acquired using finance or
other assistance from the Commission or under the Aboriginal
Development Commission Act 1980. At present, an interest
cannot be disposed of without the written consent of the
Commission.(3) A disposal effected without such consent is
Item 2 of Schedule
1 replaces subsections 21(2) and (3) of the Principal Act
with proposed subsections 21(2)-(11).
Proposed subsection 21(2) provides that an
interest cannot be disposed of unless the Commission has consented
in writing to the particular disposal or kind of disposal.
Proposed subsection 21(3) provides that this
consent must specify the person or class of person to whom the
interest is to be disposed. Without a written consent, any
purported disposal of the interest is ineffective [proposed
A written consent may be subject to conditions
[proposed subsection 21(6)]. However,
contravention of a condition will not invalidate the disposal of
the interest. Proposed subsection 21(8) provides
that, in certain circumstances, if a condition requires that all or
some of the proceeds of the disposal be applied for a purpose
specified by the Commission and that condition is contravened, then
the Commission can require the individual or body to pay it a
specified sum of money.
Section 45 of the Principal Act deals with the
delegation of certain of the Commission's functions and powers to
its Chief Executive Officer, a Commission staff member or the
Director of Evaluation and Audit. At present, the Commission cannot
delegate its power to consent to the disposal of property
Item 5 of Schedule
1 repeals and replaces paragraph 45(1)(a) of the Act.
Under proposed paragraph 45(1)(a), it will be
possible for the Commission to delegate its power to consent to the
disposal of property used for residential purposes.(6)
Section 45A of the Principal Act provides that
the Commission can delegate to Regional Councils any or all of its
powers under sections 14, 15 or 16 of the Principal Act.(7) These
sections relate to the making of grants and loans to individuals,
corporations and unincorporated bodies, giving guarantees, and to
making grants and loans to State and Territory Governments and
authorities. Grants, loans and guarantees can only be made for the
purpose of furthering the social, economic or cultural development
of Indigenous people. The Minister's Second Reading Speech
There is some doubt that ATSIC's
power of delegation to Regional Councils includes the delegation of
Item 7 amends subsection 45A(1)
of the Principal Act to enable the Commission to delegate '... any
or all of its other powers ... so far as they relate to a
grant, loan or guarantee under section 14, 15 or 16.'(9)
Item 11 deals with the
application of the amendments to section 21 of the Principal Act.
It provides that the amendments apply to disposals of interests
made on or after the date on which the Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander Commission Amendment Bill 1997 receives Royal Assent.
However, a consent given before the date of Royal Assent will
continue to be effective.
Item 12 provides that the
changes to paragraph 45(1)(a) and subsection 45A(1) of the
Principal Act will not affect delegations made before the Bill
receives Royal Assent.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, Annual
- See subsection 21(2).
- See subsection 21(3).
- See paragraph 45(1)(a).
- A prohibition on the delegation of the power to consent to the
disposal of non-residential property will remain.
- The power of delegation in section 45A was effected by the
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Amendment Act
(No.3) 1993. One of its original purposes was to empower
Regional Councils by enabling the Commission to delegate certain of
its powers to them.
- Second Reading Speech, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Commission Amendment Bill 1997, 1.
- The amendment to subsection 45A(1) does not extend to section
20 of the Principal Act. Section 20 provides for procedures and
consequences when a person or body breaches the conditions of an
ATSIC loan or grant.
6 March 1998
Bills Digest Service
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