House of Representatives

Treasury Laws Amendment (2017 Measures No. 5) Bill 2017

ASIC Supervisory Cost Recovery Levy Amendment Bill 2017

Explanatory Memorandum

(Circulated by authority of the Treasurer, the Hon Scott Morrison MP)

Chapter 9 Indigenous policy and program evaluation

Outline of chapter

9.1 Schedule 2 to this Bill amends the Productivity Commission Act 1998 (Productivity Commission Act) to provide for the appointment of an additional Commissioner to oversee the work of the Productivity Commission (the Commission) in relation to the evaluation of policies and programs that have an impact on Indigenous persons.

9.2 All references to provisions are to the Productivity Commission Act unless otherwise stated.

Context of amendments

9.3 In his Closing the Gap Report Statement to Parliament on 14 February 2017, the Prime Minister announced a new role for the Commission in Indigenous policy evaluation and the expansion of the Commission to include a new Commissioner to oversee this work.

9.4 A number of high profile reports have highlighted the need for more evaluation of policies and programs that have an impact on Indigenous persons, including the Commission's Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Report 2016. This report included case studies of programs that are making a difference as 'things that work', but the report found that only a relatively small number have been rigorously evaluated. There is a pressing need for further evaluation to better understand which policies and programs are effective in improving outcomes for Indigenous persons.

9.5 These amendments mandate the appointment of an additional Commissioner to the Commission with appropriate skills and experience in dealing with Indigenous policies and programs, Indigenous persons and their communities.

9.6 The intention of the amendments is that, under the direction of the Minister, the new Commissioner will oversee the work of the Commission in developing a whole-of-government evaluation strategy for policies and programs impacting on Indigenous persons to be reported against by all Commonwealth agencies. The new Commissioner will also oversee the work of the Commission on other Indigenous policy matters, which may include evaluation or research of particular Indigenous policies and programs.

Summary of new law

9.7 The new law provides for the appointment of a Commissioner with extensive skills and experience in dealing with policies and programs that have an impact on Indigenous persons, and experience in dealing with one or more communities of Indigenous persons.

9.8 The new law also increases the maximum number of Commissioners, not including the Commission Chair, from 11 to 12.

Detailed explanation of new law

9.9 The amendments increase the maximum number of Commissioners constituting the Commission from 11 to 12 (not including the Commission Chair). [Schedule 2, item 2, paragraph 23(1)(b) of the Productivity Commission Act]

9.10 The amendments require that at least one Commissioner must have extensive skills and experience in dealing with policies and programs that have an impact on Indigenous persons, as well as experience in dealing with one or more communities of Indigenous persons. [Schedule 2, item 4, subsection 24(6) of the Productivity Commission Act]

9.11 The phrase 'dealing with policies and programs' covers a broad range of interactions with government, non-government and the private sector on policies and programs, including:

·
designing, administering and delivering policies, programs and services affecting Indigenous persons;
·
reviewing and evaluating policies and programs affecting Indigenous persons; and
·
representing the interests of Indigenous persons in relation to policies and programs affecting Indigenous persons.

[Schedule 2, item 4, paragraph 24(6)(a)) of the Productivity Commission Act]

9.12 The phrase 'that have an impact on Indigenous persons' covers both:

·
policies and programs that specifically target Indigenous persons (that is, measures which can be characterised as 'special measures' for the purposes of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975); and
·
policies and programs that do not specifically target Indigenous persons, but which nonetheless affect the rights and interests of Indigenous persons.

[Schedule 2, item 4, paragraph 24(6)(a) of the Productivity Commission Act]

9.13 The phrase 'dealing with one or more communities of Indigenous persons' covers a broad range of interactions with Indigenous communities, including:

·
consulting and engaging with Indigenous persons in relation to policies and programs; and
·
representing the interests of Indigenous persons in relation to policies and programs affecting Indigenous persons.

[Schedule 2, item 4, paragraph 24(6)(b) of the Productivity Commission Act]

9.14 The amendments also:

·
insert a definition of Indigenous person in section 3, which aligns with the standard Commonwealth drafting practice definition;
·
make a consequential amendment resulting from the addition of the new Commissioner to ensure that the performance of the Commission's functions are not affected by the lack of such a Commissioner for four months or less; and
·
remove duplication by repealing subsections 26(3), (4) and (5), which unnecessarily replicates the specialist skills and experience required of Commissioners under section 24.

[Schedule 2, items 1, 3 and 5, section 3, paragraph 23(2)(c) and subsections 26(3), (4) and (5)]


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