Second Reading SpeechMs O'DWYER (Higgins - Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer)
That this bill be now read a second time.
The Public Governance and Resources Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2015 would, if enacted, amend 33 acts, in relation to matters of a governance or resource management nature.
The bill follows on from the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Act 2014 (PGPA C&T Act), which implemented a range of amendments to the enabling legislation of Commonwealth entities and companies to harmonise their operation with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) from 1 July 2014.
The bill is part of a broader public management reform agenda and represents the next stage in the government's approach towards streamlining and simplifying resource management and governance arrangements across the Commonwealth. While the PGPA C&T Act made changes to 242 acts to reflect the introduction of the PGPA Act, not all enabling legislation could be amended due to the complexity of some arrangements. This bill involves:
- technical amendments that would further improve the operation of the PGPA Act, including a provision to support the administration of GST obligations by non-corporate Commonwealth entities;
- amendments to provisions within the PGPA C&T Act that would streamline transitional arrangements supporting the implementation of the PGPA Act;
- amendments to the enabling legislation of Commonwealth entities intended for inclusion in the PGPA C&T Act but unable to proceed at that time due to complexity of arrangements; and
- amendments to improve and clarify the governance and resource management arrangements of the enabling legislation of Commonwealth entities that have been identified in consultations with those entities during and since the development of the PGPA C&T Act.
While many of the amendments in the bill are technical in nature, they provide greater certainty in relation to the operation of the PGPA Act.
For example, arrangements operating under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (the FMA Act) for the administration of GST obligations were continued pending further consultation with affected entities. These arrangements were only preserved until 30 June 2015.
The outcome of this process, which included the development and consideration of a discussion paper, was that these arrangements should continue, and the bill provides the necessary support for the continuation of existing GST arrangements for non-corporate Commonwealth entities from 1 July 2015.
Another example relates to repayments by the Commonwealth. The transitional arrangements in the PGPA C&T Act will be amended to clarify that repayments by the Commonwealth are covered by section 77 of the PGPA Act, regardless of when the money was received by the Commonwealth. Section 77 of the PGPA Act ensures that the Consolidated Revenue Fund can be appropriated when a repayment is required and no other appropriation for the repayment exists.
The bill also proposes amendments directed at improving efficiency and reducing red tape by harmonising and improving alignment with the PGPA Act across the statute book. For example, the bill:
- updates references in Commonwealth legislation from the FMA Act and CAC Act to the new financial framework to remove any outstanding ambiguities over the application of provisions; and
- simplifies enabling legislation where provisions of the PGPA Act cover an issue previously dealt with in enabling legislation, such as disclosure of interest arrangements, which are provided for in section 29 of the PGPA Act. The Clean Energy Regulator Act 2011 currently contains disclosure of interest requirements that are duplicative and represent unnecessary red tape. The bill would amend the Clean Energy Regulator Act 2011 to streamline these arrangements.
The bill also contains amendments to entity enabling legislation, as identified by ministers, to improve and clarify their broader governance and resource management arrangements.
The bill would amend the Air Services Act 1995 to address a longstanding issue involving the exposure of Airservices Australia to undue foreign currency risk, due to limitations on hedging activities.
The bill amends the Air Services Act 1995 to address this issue by enabling Air Services Australia to undertake activities to effectively mitigate the risk of adverse financial consequences to the entity.
The bill, if enacted, will support the PGPA Act and simplify regulatory requirements to contribute to long-term efficiencies, such as achieving improved governance, transparency and accountability arrangements for Commonwealth entities within the Australian government.
The bill is another step towards streamlining and simplifying resource management and governance arrangements across the Commonwealth.
I commend the bill to the House.
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