Business News Releases

Professional Standards Councils release annual report on performance

THE Professional Standards Councils have published their combined 2021/22 Annual Report. The annual report is a consolidated volume of the councils’ achievements and performances over the past financial year.

Professional Standards Councils’ chair, John Vines OAM said the 2021/22 Annual Report demonstrated the councils’ achievements in working with professional associations to maintain high standards in the delivery of services to Australian consumers.

“The data shows over 93,000 professionals now participate as members of 18 occupational and professional associations with approved professional standards schemes, providing greater consumer protection,” Mr Vines said.

“We have kept our focus on the important work of regulating for consumer protection and advancing professional standards, while also looking to the future and how we can encourage and assist occupational associations in their important work of regulating their members and serving their communities.”

During the 2021-22 financial year the Professional Standards Councils:

  • Approved five new schemes for associations;
  • Encouraged associations to engage in root cause analysis, resulting in 42 percent of associations undertaking it, with 37 percent incorporating elements into their risk management strategies;
  • Launched a new Scheme Application Framework, to make completing an application for a professional standards scheme clearer, simpler and more efficient. Found that 60 percent of legal profession associations are now reporting on sexual harassment as part of their risk analysis or risk management strategies;
  • Published a Rapid Evidence Review: Professional Standards and Sexual Harassment to encourage consumer-protection focused professional standards responses to sexual harassment in the legal profession;
  • Delivered two online Professional Standards Forums to over 130 delegates from all states and territories in Australia on the topics of:
    • ‘Continuing professional development in the regulation of professional standards’
    • ‘Responding to risk – insurance and improvement strategies'

For more information or to access the Professional Standards Councils’ 2021-22 Annual Report, visit www.psc.gov.au.

 

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PJCIS to review National Corruption Commission access to retained data

THE Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) has commenced a review Item 250 of Schedule 1 of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2022.

On September 30, the Attorney-General wrote to the committee referring an amendment to subsection 110A(1) of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (TIA Act) included in the National Anti-Corruption Commission (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2022 (the Consequential Bill) for the committee’s review.

Subsection 110A(1) of the TIA Act defines 'criminal law-enforcement agency', being an agency that is permitted to obtain stored communications warrants and to give authorisations for access to telecommunications data under the TIA Act.

Item 250 of Schedule 1 to the Consequential Bill amends the definition of criminal law-enforcement agency to remove the reference to the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity and insert a reference to the National Anti-Corruption Commission. The Bill proposes that this Item would ensure the new commission can exercise TIA Act powers, to effectively investigate corrupt conduct that could be serious or systemic where the conduct concerned meets the existing thresholds in the TIA Act.

Subsection 110A(11) of the TIA Act requires any amendment to subsection 110A(1) of the TIA Act to be referred to the committee for review.

The committee noted that this review was separate to Joint Select Committee on National Anti-Corruption Commission Legislation and submissions addressing issues beyond Item 250 of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2022 should be addressed to that committee.

Submissions, addressing only Item 250 of the Consequential Bill, are invited by Monday, October 31, 2022. The committee encourages concise submissions.

Further information on the inquiry can be obtained from the Committee’s website.

 

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Treaties Committee holds hearings into Australia-Japan Reciprocal Access Agreement and Australia-US Cloud Act Agreement

THE Joint Standing Committee on Treaties will hold a public hearing on Wednesday October 12, 2022 into two treaties.

The Agreement between Australia and Japan concerning the Facilitation of Reciprocal Access and Cooperation between the Australian Defence Force and the Self‑Defense Forces of Japan would provide a legal framework to facilitate defence cooperation between Australia and Japan and define the status of the Visiting Force and Civilian Component of a Party while in the territory of the other Party.

The Committee will be hearing from witnesses who have made submissions addressing a range of matters including the criminal justice elements of the treaty, particularly the Annex and Record of Discussion that deal with the death penalty.

The Committee will also hear from submitters to the Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the United States of America on Access to Electronic Data for the Purpose of Countering Serious Crime (Australia-US Cloud Act Agreement).

The Australia-US Cloud Act Agreement would allow Australian authorities to seek an Order under Australian law to obtain the electronic data of a Covered Person where it relates to a serious offence, directly from communication service providers that operate under the jurisdiction of the US, and vice versa.

Committee Chair, Josh Wilson MP said, “The Committee looks forward to hearing from a range of representative as it progresses its inquiries into these two important treaties.”

Public hearing details

Date: Wednesday, 12 October 2022
Time: 9.10am – 3.10pm AEDT

The program for this hearing is also available online: Australia-Japan RAA and Australia-US Cloud Act Agreement.

Further information on the inquiries can be found on the Committee website.

 

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Community safety, support services and job opportunities in the NT

ON SEPTEMBER 28, 2022, the Senate referred the Inquiry into Community Safety, Support Services and Job Opportunities in the Northern Territory, to the Joint Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs (JSCATSIA).

The inquiry is directed at considering the preparations made for the sunsetting of the Stronger Futures legislation and to consider its impacts on community safety and alcohol management, job opportunities and Community Development Program reform, justice reinvestment community services, and related matters.

Committee Chair Senator Patrick Dodson said, “The committee expects to receive evidence from individuals living and working in the Northern Territory, as well as communities, organisations, land councils, and others with a connection to the important issues we will be inquiring into.

“I would like to encourage all Territorians to have their say on how the sunsetting of the Stronger Futures legislation has affected them and their communities.”

The committee has called for submissions from interested individuals and organisations.

For more information about this committee and its inquiry, including the terms of reference and instructions on making a submission, visit the inquiry webpage.

 

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Administration of government grants to be examined by Audit Committee

THE administration of government grants will be examined in a new Parliamentary inquiry, seeking to understand and learn lessons from the administration of previous grants programs and strengthen how Commonwealth grants are delivered.

Four Auditor-General’s reports relating to grants administration (Building Better Regions; Grants Hubs; Safer Communities; and Commuter Car Parks) will be considered by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit in this inquiry.

The administration of three other grant programs (the Urban Congestion Fund; Regional Growth Fund; and Modern Manufacturing Initiative) as well as the implementation of recommendations in the Committee’s previous report on grants will also be reviewed.

Committee Chair, Julian Hill MP said parliamentary scrutiny of these programs was important to ensure that future grants programs were administered consistent with the intent of the Commonwealth Grant Rules and guidelines and in line with community expectations.

"The Committee will amplify the Auditor-General’s work, and also examine additional programs of interest administered by the previous government to learn lessons and to try to improve grants administration in the future,” Mr Hill said.

The Committee invites submissions to the inquiry addressing the terms of reference to be received by Friday, October 28, 2022. Details of public hearings will be made available on the inquiry website.

 

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