I rise to sum up on the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Amendment Bill 2018. The bill amends the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Act 1987. The bill will modernise governance arrangements at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare by implementing a board which collectively possesses skills or experience or significant standing in a range of different fields. Prescriptive eligibility requirements will be removed, as will ex officio positions and other representative positions.
The changes will ensure that the board has the necessary expertise to focus on the key strategic issues and challenges faced by the institute in a market that is increasing in contestability for its services. The bill will recognise jurisdictional interests, with up to three members of the board to be nominated by state health ministers. This is critical to ensuring the ongoing production of high-quality and relevant data and statistics. The bill will ensure that vacancies are filled in a timely manner, with the Minister for Health, rather than the Governor-General, being responsible for appointments to the board. Furthermore, the measures will bring greater stability to the board through membership terms of up to five years.
The bill also makes other amendments designed to improve the operations of the institute, including changing the title of the director to chief executive officer, assigning the board responsibility for appointing the chief officer and removing the need for ministerial approval of contract limits. The bill modifies the institute’s functions in relation to data collection activities; the institute is to consult with, rather than seek agreement from, the Australian Bureau of Statistics on the collection of health and welfare related information and statistics. The bill also includes transitional arrangements to ensure that the chair and chief executive officer can continue in their positions for the balance of their current terms, along with clarification on delegation powers.
Through this bill, the board will be better equipped to focus on the strategic issues and challenges faced by the institute. The bill will also reduce the administrative burden associated with the appointment of new members to the board, resulting in greater stability and timely filling of vacancies. I thank members of the Senate for their contribution to debate on this bill and I commend the bill to this Senate.
Question agreed to.
Bill read a second time.