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Dissenting Report by Coalition Members

 

National Children’s Commissioner Bill 2012 (Cth) 

1.      Coalition members do not agree with the Committee that the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth) should be amended to establish the statutory office of the National Children’s Commissioner (the Commissioner) in the Australian Human Rights Commission (the AHRC). 

2.      Coalition members of the Committee recognise the importance of promoting public discussion and awareness of issues affecting children. We also acknowledge that legislation, policies and programs affecting the rights, wellbeing and development of children should be properly examined. However, we are not persuaded by the Committee that this bill would necessarily advance these objectives any further than is currently being achieved.   

3.      Coalition members are of the view that the AHRC, in cooperation with the relevant state and territory commissioners and guardians, already adequately perform the functions envisaged for the new Commissioner. The establishment of a new Commissioner at a federal level would unnecessarily duplicate the policy and advocacy functions of the respective state and territory authorities, as well as the advisory functions provided for in the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth). Additionally, given the new Commissioner will only function as an advocate and not undertake any casework, Coalition members are not persuaded its establishment would support the work currently performed by state and territory commissioners. Rather, the bill would merely contribute to the expansion of Australia’s already burgeoning bureaucracy.  

4.      Coalition Members cannot agree with the Commission that there is urgency surrounding the establishment of a National Children’s Commissioner. There is no evidence to suggest that there has been an increase in the workload of the AHRC, or that of the respective state and territory commissioners, to justify the establishment of a new Commissioner at a federal level.  

5.      Coalition Members are not persuaded that there are any compelling reasons to further expand the number of AHRC commissioners or a sufficient justification to create a stand-alone advocacy function for children’s rights in Australia at a Commonwealth level.

 

Recommendations

That the bill be opposed.

 


Hon Judi Moylan

Mr Ross Vasta

Dr Sharman Stone

 

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