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A Bill for an Act to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, and for related purposes
For authoritative information on the progress of bills and on amendments proposed to them, please see the House of Representatives Votes and Proceedings, and the Journals of the Senate as available on the Parliament House website.
Registered 26 Jun 2013
Introduced Senate 25 Jun 2013
Table of contents.

 

2010‑2011‑2012‑2013

 

The Parliament of the

Commonwealth of Australia

 

THE SENATE

 

 

 

 

Presented and read a first time

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Leaders’ Debate Commission) Bill 2013

 

No.      , 2013

 

(Senator Milne)

 

 

 

A Bill for an Act to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, and for related purposes

  

  


Contents

1............ Short title............................................................................................. 1

2............ Commencement................................................................................... 1

3............ Schedule(s)......................................................................................... 1

Schedule 1—Leaders’ Debate Commission                                                            3

Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918                                                                         3

 


A Bill for an Act to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, and for related purposes

The Parliament of Australia enacts:

1  Short title

                   This Act may be cited as the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Leaders’ Debate Commission) Act 2013.

2  Commencement

                   This Act commences on the day after it receives the Royal Assent.

3  Schedule(s)

                   Each Act that is specified in a Schedule to this Act is amended or repealed as set out in the applicable items in the Schedule concerned, and any other item in a Schedule to this Act has effect according to its terms.


 

Schedule 1—Leaders’ Debate Commission

Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918

1  Subsection 4(1)

Insert:

Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commission means the person appointed pursuant to subsection 399(1).

2  Subsection 4(1)

Insert:

Deputy Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commission means a person appointed pursuant to subsection 409(1).

3  Subsection 4(1)

Insert:

Leaders’ Debate Commission means the Commission established pursuant to section 417.

4  After Part XXIII

Insert:

Part XXIV—Leaders’ Debate Commission

Division 1Preliminary

396  Objects

                   The objects of this Part are to promote informed political debate in Australia by forming a Leaders’ Debate Commission and by appointing a Commissioner to coordinate the operation of the Leaders’ Debate Commission.

                   The Commissioner:

(a)    will implement a system to convene 3 or more debates between the leaders of each party that is a registered political party within the period of 3 months prior to each general election for the House of Representatives; and

(b)   may identify, from time to time, independent or non-aligned Senators or Members of the House of Representatives to participate in debates; and

                     (c)  will appoint Deputy Commissioners to advise the Commissioner in carrying out his or her functions; and

                     (d)  will supervise and manage the activities of the staff of the Commission; and

                     (e)  will act impartially, independently and apolitically at all times.


 

Division 2Establishment, functions and powers of the Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commission

397  Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commission

                   There is to be a Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commission.

398  Functions of the Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commission

             (1)  The Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commission has the following functions:

                     (a)  to implement a system to convene 3 or more debates between the leaders of each party that is a registered political party within the period of 3 months prior to each general election for the House of Representatives; and

                     (b)  to determine each of the following:

                              (i)  the format and structure of the debates;

                             (ii)  the number of debates;

                            (iii)  the length of each debate;

                            (iv)  the people entitled to participate in each debate;

                             (v)  the person who will be the moderator of each debate;

                            (vi)  a system to identify questions that the participants will be asked at each debate;

                           (vii)  the location of each debate;

                          (viii)  the broadcast and promotion of each debate; and

                     (c)  to appoint Deputy Commissioners to advise the Commissioner in carrying out his or her functions; and

                     (d)  to supervise and manage the activities of the staff of the Commission; and

                     (e)  to act impartially, independently and apolitically at all times.

             (2)  The Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commission has the power to do all things necessary or convenient to be done for or in connection with the performance of the Commissioner’s functions.

399  Appointment

             (1)  The Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commission is to be appointed by the Governor‑General by written instrument on a part‑time basis.

             (2)  Before a recommendation is made to the Governor‑General for the appointment of a person as the Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commission, the Prime Minister must consult with the Leader of all other parliamentary political parties.

             (3)  A person must not be appointed as the Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commission unless the person is, in the Governor‑General’s opinion, suitable for appointment because of the person’s qualifications, training or experience.

             (4)  A person’s appointment as the Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commission is not invalid because of a defect or irregularity in connection with the person’s appointment.

400  Term of appointment

             (1)  Subject to subsection (2), the Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commission holds office for a period of 3 years.

             (2)  The first person to be appointed as Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commission holds office for a period of 2 years.

             (3)  The Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commission is eligible for reappointment once only.

401  Remuneration and allowances

             (1)  The Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commission is to be paid such remuneration and allowances as is determined by the Remuneration Tribunal. If no determination of that remuneration is in operation, the Commissioner is to be paid such remuneration as is prescribed by the regulations.

             (2)  This section has effect subject to the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973.

402  Leave of absence

                   The Minister may grant leave of absence to the Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commission on the terms and conditions that the Governor‑General determines in writing.

403  Outside employment

                   The Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commission may engage in paid employment to the extent that the employment does not conflict with the proper performance of his or her duties.

404  Disclosure of interests to the Minister

                   The Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commission must give written notice to the Minister of all interests, pecuniary or otherwise, that the Commissioner has or acquires and that conflict or could conflict with the proper performance of his or her functions.

405  Other terms and conditions

                   The Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commission holds office on such terms and conditions (if any) in relation to matters not provided for by this Act as are determined, in writing, by the Governor‑General.

406  Resignation

             (1)  The Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commission may resign by giving to the Governor‑General a signed notice of resignation.

             (2)  The resignation takes effect on the day on which it is received by the Governor‑General or, if a later day is specified in the resignation, on that later day.

407  Termination of appointment

             (1)  The Governor‑General may terminate the appointment of the Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commission for misbehaviour or physical or mental incapacity.

             (2)  The Governor‑General must terminate the appointment of the Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commission:

                     (a)  if the Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commission:

                              (i)  becomes bankrupt; or

                             (ii)  applies to take the benefit of any law for the relief of bankrupt or insolvent debtors; or

                            (iii)  compounds with his or her creditors; or

                            (iv)  makes an assignment of his or her remuneration for the benefit of his or her creditors; or

                     (b)  if the Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commissioner fails, without reasonable excuse, to comply with section 404 (about disclosure of interests); or

                     (c)  if the Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commission engages in paid employment that conflicts with the proper performance of the Commissioner’s duties; or

                     (d)  if the Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commission is absent, except on leave of absence granted under section 402, for 7 consecutive days or for 14 days in any 12 months.

408  Acting Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commission

                   The Minister may appoint a person to act as the Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commission:

                     (a)  during a vacancy in the office of the Commissioner (whether or not an appointment has previously been made to the office); or

                     (b)  during a period, or during all periods, when the Commissioner:

                              (i)  is absent from duty or from Australia; or

                             (ii)  is, for any reason, unable to perform the duties of the office;

                            so long as the period, or the total of all periods, is not more than 12 months.

Note:          For rules that apply to acting appointments, see section 33A of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901.


 

Division 3—Deputy Commissioners

409  Appointment of Deputy Commissioners

             (1)  The Commissioner must appoint 7 people to be Deputy Commissioners of the Leaders’ Debate Commission.

             (2)  The Deputy Commissioners must be people:

                     (a)  with experience and sufficient qualifications in relation to Australian politics or the media; and

                     (b)  who are impartial and independent.

             (3)  For the purpose of subsection (1), the Commissioner must appoint:

                     (a)  1 Deputy Commissioner who is a member of the Commonwealth Parliament Press Gallery; and

                     (b)  1 Deputy Commissioner who is a representative of the National Press Club; and

                     (c)  1 Deputy Commissioner who is a representative of the Australian Labor Party, as nominated by the leader of that party; and

                     (d)  1 Deputy Commissioner who is a representative of the Coalition, as nominated by the leader of the Liberal Party of Australia; and

                     (e)  1 Deputy Commissioner who is a representative of the Australian Greens Party, as nominated by the leader of that party; and

                      (f)  2 non-partisan community representatives.

410  Functions of Deputy Commissioners

             (1)  The Deputy Commissioners are, at the request of the Commissioner, to provide advice and make recommendations to the Commissioner in relation to the Commissioner’s functions under this Act.

             (2)  The Deputy Commissioners have the power to do all things necessary or convenient to be done for or in connection with the performance of its function.

             (3)  To avoid doubt, the Deputy Commissioners cannot give any directions to the Commissioner.

411  Term of appointment

                   A Deputy Commissioner holds office for the period specified in the instrument of appointment. The period must not exceed 3 years.

Note:          A Deputy Commissioner is eligible for reappointment (see section 33AA of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901).

412  No remuneration or allowances

                   A Deputy Commissioner is not to be paid any remuneration or allowances.

413  Disclosure of interests to the Commissioner

                   The Deputy Commissioners of the Leaders’ Debate Commission must give written notice to the Commissioner of all interests, pecuniary or otherwise, that they have or acquire and that conflict or could conflict with the proper performance of his or her functions.

414  Other terms and conditions

                   A Deputy Commissioner holds office on the terms and conditions (if any) in relation to matters not covered by this Act that are determined, in writing, by the Commissioner.

415  Resignation

             (1)  A Deputy Commissioner may resign his or her appointment by giving the Commissioner a signed notice of resignation.

             (2)  A resignation takes effect on the day it is received by the Commissioner or, if a later day is specified in the resignation, on that later day.

416  Termination of appointment

                   The Commissioner may terminate a Deputy Commissioner’s appointment at any time.


 

Division 4—Leaders’ Debate Commission

417  Establishment

                   The Leaders’ Debate Commission is established by this section as a part of the Australian Electoral Commission.

Note:          The Leaders’ Debate Commission does not have a legal identity separate from the Commonwealth.

418  Constitution of the Leaders’ Debate Commission

                   The Leaders’ Debate Commission consists of:

                     (a)  the Commissioner; and

                     (b)  the Deputy Commissioners; and

                     (b)  any staff assisting the Commissioner as mentioned in section 420.

419  Function of the Leaders’ Debate Commission

                   The Leaders’ Debate Commission’s function is to assist the Commissioner in the performance of the Commissioner’s functions.

420  Staff

             (1)  The staff assisting the Commissioner are to be persons engaged under the Public Service Act 1999 and made available for the purpose by the Australian Electoral Commission.

             (2)  When performing services for the Commissioner under this section, a person is subject to the directions of the Commissioner.


 

Division 5—Miscellaneous

  

421  Report

             (1)  The Commissioner of the Leaders’ Debate Commissioner must prepare and give to the Minister a report (a report) relating to the performance of the Commissioner’s functions as set out in section 398 within 3 months after the date of a general election for the House of Representatives.

             (2)  The Minister must cause a copy of the report to be presented to each House of the Parliament within 15 sitting days of that House after the day on which he or she receives the report.

422  Regulations

                   The Governor‑General may make regulations prescribing matters:

                     (a)  required or permitted by this Act to be prescribed; or

                     (b)  necessary or convenient to be prescribed for carrying out or giving effect to this Act.

423  Appropriation

                   Payments made for the purpose of implementing this Act are to be made out of money appropriated by the Parliament for the purposes of this Act.