Bills Digest No. 27 1999-2000 Australian Tourist Commission Amendment Bill 1999


Numerical Index | Alphabetical Index

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
Purpose
Background
Main Provisions
Concluding Comments
Endnotes
Contact Officer & Copyright Details

Passage History

Australian Tourist Commission Amendment Bill 1999

Date Introduced: 23 June 1999

House: House of Representatives

Portfolio: Sport and Tourism

Commencement: Royal Assent

Purpose

To amend the objects of the Australian Tourist Commission under the Australian Tourist Commission Act 1987. The Commission will be required to have regard to the principles of ecologically sustainable development and the social impact of international tourism in Australia.

Background

The Australian Tourist Commission Act 1987 (ATC Act) ensures the continuation of the Australian Tourist Commission (the Commission), which was established by an earlier Act.(1) The main objects of the Commission are set out in section 6 of the ATC Act:

  • to increase the number of overseas visitors to Australia
  • to maximise the benefits to Australia from overseas visitors, and
  • to ensure that Australia is protected from adverse environmental and social impacts of international tourism.

In 1997, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) undertook a performance audit of the Commission. The Report, titled Aspects of Corporate Governance - The Australian Tourist Commission, concluded that the Commission:

is currently unable to demonstrate that it is fully meeting all of its statutory objectives; this applies particularly to the objective of ensuring 'that Australia is protected from adverse environmental and social impacts of tourism...'(2)

Although the ANAO Report acknowledged that the Commission has no regulatory powers or authority to ensure the protection of the environment and society from the impact of tourism, it stated that:

However, the ATC does have a statutory responsibility in this area which it can perform, that is to 'closely monitor and report the effects of international tourism on Australia's natural environment and society'.(3)

ANAO concluded that one of the main challenges for the Commission was to ensure that strategies reflecting this objective were implemented in its planning framework.(4)

In its Review of the Auditor-General's Reports 1997-98 for the First Quarter, the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit noted that:

The Committee appreciates that the lack of regulatory power is hampering the ATC from meeting this objective. The Committee believes that the ATC's ability will be strengthened by the rewriting of this clause in the Australian Tourist Commission Act 1987.(5)

The Committee recommended that the Commission's Board should propose to the Minister for Sport and Tourism that the statutory objective in paragraph 6(c) of the ATC Act should be amended to clarify the Commission's role.(6) The Australian Tourism Commission Amendment Bill 1999 implements this recommendation.

Main Provisions

Item 1 of Schedule 1 amends paragraph 6(c) of the ATC Act so that the Commission will not be required to ensure that Australia is protected from adverse environmental and social impacts of international tourism. Proposed paragraph 6(c) requires the Commission to work with other agencies to meet its objects. The Commission will be required to have regard to the principles of ecologically sustainable development and the social impacts of international tourism in Australia.

The definition of ecologically sustainable development adopted is set out in subsection 21(3) of the Natural Heritage Trust Act 1997 and includes the following core objectives:

  • to enhance individual and community well-being and welfare by following a path of economic development that safeguards the welfare of future generations
  • to provide for equity within and between generations
  • to protect biological diversity and maintain essential ecological processes and life-support systems.

Concluding Comments

The Productivity Commission in a recent report, Implementation of Ecologically Sustainable Development by Commonwealth Departments and Agencies - Draft Report, identified poor coordination between government agencies as an impediment to the implementation of the principles of ecologically sustainable development.(7) The amended objectives should help to overcome any coordination failure in relation to the work of the Australian Tourist Commission.

Endnotes

  1. Section 5 of the Australian Tourist Commission Act 1987.

  2. Aspects of Corporate Governance - The Australian Tourist Commission, Australian National Audit Office, 1997, p. xv.

  3. Ibid p. 30.

  4. Ibid. p. 20.

  5. Review of the Auditor-General's Reports 1997-98 for the First Quarter, Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit, Report 361, June 1998, p. 32.

  6. Ibid.

  7. Implementation of Ecologically Sustainable Development by Commonwealth Departments and Agencies - Draft Report, Productivity Commission, February 1999, http://www.pc.gov.au/inquiry/esd/draftrep/index.html, p. 15.

Contact Officer and Copyright Details

Fiona Walker
11 August 1999
Bills Digest Service
Information and Research Services

This paper has been prepared for general distribution to Senators and Members of the Australian Parliament. While great care is taken to ensure that the paper is accurate and balanced, the paper is written using information publicly available at the time of production. The views expressed are those of the author and should not be attributed to the Information and Research Services (IRS). Advice on legislation or legal policy issues contained in this paper is provided for use in parliamentary debate and for related parliamentary purposes. This paper is not professional legal opinion. Readers are reminded that the paper is not an official parliamentary or Australian government document.

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 1999

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, 1999.

Back to top


Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Add | Email Print
Back to top