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A Bill for an Act to establish the Australian Multicultural Commission, and for related purposes
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Registered 24 Aug 2018
Introduced Senate 23 Aug 2018

2016‑2017‑2018

 

The Parliament of the

Commonwealth of Australia

 

THE SENATE

 

 

 

 

Presented and read a first time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australian Multicultural Bill 2018

 

No.      , 2018

 

(Senator Di Natale)

 

 

 

A Bill for an Act to establish the Australian Multicultural Commission, and for related purposes

  

  

  


Contents

Part 1—Preliminary                                                                                                             1

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

2............ Commencement................................................................................... 2

3............ Definitions.......................................................................................... 2

4............ Objects of this Act.............................................................................. 3

5............ Simplified outline of this Act.............................................................. 4

Part 2—Application of this Act                                                                                     6

6............ Act applies throughout Australia......................................................... 6

7............ Alternative constitutional basis............................................................ 6

8............ Interaction with State and Territory laws............................................. 7

9............ Extent to which Act binds the Crown................................................. 7

Part 3—Australia’s multicultural policy                                                                  8

10.......... Australia’s multicultural policy........................................................... 8

Part 4—Implementation of Australia’s multicultural policy                       9

Division 1—Application of Australia’s multicultural policy                    9

11.......... Commonwealth entities to recognise, promote and comply with Australia’s multicultural policy            9

12.......... Multicultural policy application orders for corporate Commonwealth entities and Commonwealth companies        9

Division 2—Reporting                                                                                                11

13.......... Annual reporting by Commonwealth entities.................................... 11

14.......... Annual reporting by Commonwealth companies.............................. 12

Part 5—Australian Multicultural Commission                                                  13

Division 1—Establishment and functions                                                         13

15.......... Australian Multicultural Commission............................................... 13

16.......... Functions of the Commission........................................................... 13

17.......... General powers of the Commission.................................................. 14

18.......... General policy guidelines for the Commission.................................. 14

19.......... Flexibility and range of working methods in performance of Commission’s functions           15

Division 2—Constitution and operation                                                           16

20.......... Members of the Commission............................................................ 16

21.......... Validity of decisions......................................................................... 17

22.......... Chair of the Commission.................................................................. 17

23.......... Staff of the Commission................................................................... 17

24.......... Deputy Chair of the Commission...................................................... 18

25.......... Acting Chair of the Commission....................................................... 18

26.......... When the Commission is to meet...................................................... 18

27.......... Procedure at meetings....................................................................... 18

Division 3—Inquiries                                                                                                  20

28.......... Matters in relation to which the Commission may conduct inquiries 20

29.......... Commission not to inquire into conduct of intelligence agencies...... 20

30.......... Main purpose of inquiry is to make recommendations...................... 20

31.......... Initiating inquiries............................................................................. 21

32.......... Commission’s general discretion as to how to conduct inquiries...... 21

33.......... Commission to report to Minister on inquiry.................................... 21

34.......... Minister to table report on inquiry in Parliament............................... 22

Part 6—Miscellaneous                                                                                                       23

35.......... Delegation......................................................................................... 23

36.......... Annual report.................................................................................... 23

37.......... Legislative rules................................................................................ 23

 


A Bill for an Act to establish the Australian Multicultural Commission, and for related purposes

The Parliament of Australia enacts:

Part 1Preliminary

  

1  Short title

                   This Act is the Australian Multicultural Act 2018.

2  Commencement

             (1)  Each provision of this Act specified in column 1 of the table commences, or is taken to have commenced, in accordance with column 2 of the table. Any other statement in column 2 has effect according to its terms.

 

Commencement information

Column 1

Column 2

Column 3

Provisions

Commencement

Date/Details

1.  Sections 1 and 2 and anything in this Act not elsewhere covered by this table

The day after this Act receives the Royal Assent.

 

2.  Sections 3 to 37

The later of:

(a) the day after this Act receives the Royal Assent; and

(b) the day after the Consolidated Revenue Fund is appropriated to fund the establishment of the Australian Multicultural Commission.

 

Note:          This table relates only to the provisions of this Act as originally enacted. It will not be amended to deal with any later amendments of this Act.

             (2)  Any information in column 3 of the table is not part of this Act. Information may be inserted in this column, or information in it may be edited, in any published version of this Act.

3  Definitions

                   In this Act:

accountable authority has the same meaning as in the PGPA Act.

Australia’s multicultural policy: see section 10.

Commission means the body corporate established under section 15 under the name Australian Multicultural Commission.

Commonwealth company has the same meaning as in the PGPA Act.

Commonwealth conduct means:

                     (a)  conduct engaged in by or on behalf of any of the following:

                              (i)  the Commonwealth;

                             (ii)  a Commonwealth entity;

                            (iii)  the Government of a Territory;

                            (iv)  a Territory authority; or

                     (b)  conduct engaged in in accordance with a Commonwealth law or a Territory law; or

                     (c)  conduct engaged in within a Territory.

Commonwealth entity has the same meaning as in the PGPA Act.

corporate Commonwealth entity has the same meaning as in the PGPA Act.

inquiry means an inquiry under Division 3 of Part 5.

intelligence agency has the same meaning as in the Inspector‑General of Intelligence and Security Act 1986.

law means any of the following (or a provision of any of the following):

                     (a)  an Act;

                     (b)  regulations, or any other instrument, made under an Act;

                     (c)  any other legislation that applies as a law of the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory because of an Act, or because of regulations or an instrument referred to in paragraph (b).

multicultural policy application order: see subsection 12(1).

PGPA Act means the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

4  Objects of this Act

                   The objects of this Act are as follows:

                     (a)  to promote full participation by Australia’s diverse communities in the social, cultural, economic and political life of Australia;

                     (b)  to promote access by Australia’s diverse communities to services made available by governments and other bodies;

                     (c)  to encourage all of Australia’s diverse communities to retain and express their social identity and cultural inheritance and to promote mutual respect;

                     (d)  to promote cooperation between bodies concerned with multicultural affairs and diversity;

                     (e)  to promote unity, understanding and harmony among Australia’s diverse communities;

                      (f)  to promote a better understanding of Australia’s diverse communities;

                     (g)  to promote the social, cultural and economic benefits of diversity;

                     (h)  to promote community service as a principle that builds a stronger society.

5  Simplified outline of this Act

This Act enshrines the principles of multiculturalism and diversity, establishes the Australian Multicultural Commission and outlines annual reporting requirements for Commonwealth entities.

Part 2 of the Act provides for how the Act will apply in Australia and for the constitutional basis of the Act.

Australia’s multicultural policy is set out in Part 3 of the Act. This Act provides a legislative basis for that policy.

Part 4 of the Act requires Commonwealth entities to give effect to Australia’s multicultural policy and makes provision for the Minister to direct corporate Commonwealth entities and Commonwealth companies to apply aspects of Australia’s multicultural policy. This Part also contains reporting requirements to ensure transparency.

Part 5 of the Act provides for the establishment and operation of the Australian Multicultural Commission. The Commission may conduct inquires on its own initiative or at the request of the Minister and report the outcomes of those inquiries to the Minister. The Minister must table the reports in both Houses of Parliament, and publish the reports.

Part 6 of the Act provides for miscellaneous matters.

Part 2Application of this Act

  

6  Act applies throughout Australia

             (1)  This Act applies throughout Australia.

             (2)  This Act applies to conduct engaged in in Australia, even if the conduct involves persons or things, or matters arising, outside Australia.

7  Alternative constitutional basis

             (1)  Without limiting its effect apart from this section, this Act also has effect as provided by this section.

             (2)  This Act has effect to the extent that it:

                     (a)  gives effect to the human rights instruments; or

                     (b)  relates to matters of international concern.

             (3)  For the purposes of subsection (2), the human rights instruments are the following:

                     (a)  the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination done at New York on 21 December 1965 ([1975] ATS 40);

                     (b)  the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights done at New York on 16 December 1966 ([1976] ATS 5);

                     (c)  the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights done at New York on 16 December 1966 ([1980] ATS 23).

             (4)  This Act also has the effect it would have if each reference in this Act to a corporate Commonwealth entity, a Commonwealth company or a subsidiary were limited so that it applies only if the entity, company or subsidiary is a corporation to which paragraph 51(xx) of the Constitution applies.

8  Interaction with State and Territory laws

                   This Act is not intended to exclude or limit the operation of a law of a State or Territory that is capable of operating concurrently with this Act.

9  Extent to which Act binds the Crown

                   This Act binds the Crown in right of the Commonwealth but, except as otherwise expressly provided by this Act, does not bind the Crown in right of a State.

Part 3Australia’s multicultural policy

  

10  Australia’s multicultural policy

             (1)  This Part sets out Australia’s multicultural policy.

             (2)  It is the policy of the Australian government:

                     (a)  to recognise the first nation’s people and that Australia has been a proudly multicultural country since before British arrival; and

                     (b)  to recognise that Australians come from diverse cultural backgrounds and that multiculturalism is a fundamental aspect of Australian heritage; and

                     (c)  to protect the equal treatment of individuals under the law, while respecting the cultural, linguistic and religious diversity of those individuals; and

                     (d)  to foster an appreciation of diverse cultures and to advance community harmony in Australia by demonstrating a national commitment to the value of diversity; and

                     (e)  to encourage and assist the institutions of Australia to be inclusive of our multicultural community; and

                      (f)  to ensure that all Australians are equally entitled to participate and contribute to the social, cultural, economic and political life of Australia; and

                     (g)  to ensure that all Australians are able to confidently access Government funded services.

Part 4Implementation of Australia’s multicultural policy

Division 1Application of Australia’s multicultural policy

11  Commonwealth entities to recognise, promote and comply with Australia’s multicultural policy

                   The accountable authority of a Commonwealth entity must govern the entity in a way that:

                     (a)  recognises Australia’s multicultural policy; and

                     (b)  promotes the achievement of Australia’s multicultural policy; and

                     (c)  ensures that the Commonwealth entity complies with Australia’s multicultural policy in performing its functions and exercising its duties and powers, including in relation to:

                              (i)  the provision of government services; and

                             (ii)  the development and implementation of government policies.

12  Multicultural policy application orders for corporate Commonwealth entities and Commonwealth companies

             (1)  The Minister may make an order (a multicultural policy application order) that specifies how Australia’s multicultural policy is to apply in relation to one or more corporate Commonwealth entities or Commonwealth companies.

             (2)  Before making a multicultural policy application order that applies in relation to an entity or company, the Minister must consult with the entity or company on the application of the policy.

             (3)  The accountable authority of a corporate Commonwealth entity, or a director of a Commonwealth company (as the case may be), must ensure that a multicultural policy application order that applies to the entity or company is complied with:

                     (a)  in relation to the entity or company; and

                     (b)  in relation to any subsidiary of the entity or company, so far as practicable.

             (4)  A multicultural policy application order is a legislative instrument.

Division 2Reporting

13  Annual reporting by Commonwealth entities

             (1)  The annual report prepared by a Commonwealth entity and given to the Minister under section 46 of the PGPA Act for a period must include the following:

                     (a)  a summary of actions undertaken by the entity during that period to promote the achievement of Australia’s multicultural policy;

                     (b)  particulars of any occasion or circumstance during the period in which the entity:

                              (i)  failed to comply with Australia’s multicultural policy in performing its functions or exercising its duties and powers; or

                             (ii)  if a multicultural policy application order applied to the entity during the period—failed to comply with the order;

                     (c)  the use of interpreting and translating services by the entity during the period;

                     (d)  communications in languages other than English made by the entity during the period;

                     (e)  the extent to which people from diverse backgrounds were represented during the period on boards and committees established by the entity or for which the entity was administratively responsible;

                      (f)  the collection of statistical data during the period to enable the development of policies, programs and practices sensitive and responsive to the multicultural character of Australia.

             (2)  For the purposes of paragraph (1)(e), a person has a diverse background if at least one parent of the person was born overseas.

14  Annual reporting by Commonwealth companies

                   The annual report prepared by a Commonwealth company and given to the Minister under section 97 of the PGPA Act for a period must include the following:

                     (a)  whether any multicultural policy application orders applied to the company during the period;

                     (b)  if a multicultural policy application order applied to the company during the period—particulars of any occasion or circumstance during the period in which the company failed to comply with the order.

Part 5Australian Multicultural Commission

Division 1Establishment and functions

15  Australian Multicultural Commission

             (1)  The Australian Multicultural Commission is established.

             (2)  For the purposes of the finance law (within the meaning of the PGPA Act):

                     (a)  the Commission is a listed entity; and

                     (b)  the Chair is the accountable authority of the Commission; and

                     (c)  the following persons are officials of the Commission:

                              (i)  the Chair;

                             (ii)  the other members;

                            (iii)  the staff of the Commission referred to in section 23; and

                     (d)  the purposes of the Commission include the functions of the Commission referred to in section 16.

16  Functions of the Commission

             (1)  The functions of the Commission are:

                     (a)  to ensure that the objects of this Act are met to the maximum extent that is practicable; and

                     (b)  to provide a single coordination point for providing integrated responses to the government to issues associated with cultural diversity; and

                     (c)  to research, report on and advise the Minister on systemic community issues relating to the objectives of the Commission:

                              (i)  that are identified through community consultation; or

                             (ii)  that relate to the adequacy of government services, support or service delivery for diverse communities; and

                     (d)  to investigate, report and make recommendations to the Minister on any matter referred to it by the Minister; and

                     (e)  to advise the Minister on factors inhibiting the development of harmonious community relations and on barriers to the participation of Australia’s diverse communities in the social, cultural, economic and political life of Australia; and

                      (f)  to advise, and make recommendations to, the Australian Human Rights Commission on matters relating to discrimination and racial vilification, and to refer matters relating to discrimination and racial vilification to that Commission; and

                     (g)  to undertake systematic and wide‑ranging consultation with bodies and people to:

                              (i)  determine the needs of Australia’s diverse communities; and

                             (ii)  promote the objectives of the Commission; and

                     (h)  to develop and maintain partnerships between community organisations which provide assistance, support and service delivery for diverse communities; and

                      (i)  to develop and maintain harmonious community relations between all relevant groups in the context of Australia’s diverse communities; and

                      (j)  to perform any other function conferred on it by this Act; and

                     (k)  to do anything incidental to any of the preceding functions.

17  General powers of the Commission

             (1)  The Commission has power to do everything necessary or convenient to be done for, or in connection with, the performance of its functions.

             (2)  The Chair may enter into contracts or agreements on behalf of the Commission for, or in connection with, carrying out the objectives or performing the functions of the Commission.

18  General policy guidelines for the Commission

             (1)  In performing its functions, the Commission must have regard to the need:

                     (a)  to promote Australia’s multicultural policy; and

                     (b)  for Australia to meet its international obligations and commitments that are in respect of, or that relate to, multiculturalism.

             (2)  In performing its functions, the Commission must also have regard to any other matters notified to it in writing by the Minister.

19  Flexibility and range of working methods in performance of Commission’s functions

                   In performing its functions, the Commission:

                     (a)  is not required to act in a formal manner; and

                     (b)  may inform itself on any matter in any way it thinks fit; and

                     (c)  may consult with anyone it thinks fit; and

                     (d)  may receive written or oral information or submissions; and

                     (e)  may hold public seminars, conduct workshops and establish working groups and task forces.

Division 2Constitution and operation

20  Members of the Commission

             (1)  The Commission consists of:

                     (a)  a Chair; and

                     (b)  a Deputy Chair; and

                     (c)  a member who is a youth representative, being a person who is aged at least 18 years but no more than 24 years at the time of his or her appointment; and

                     (d)  a member who is a representative of a community organisation; and

                     (e)  eight other members.

             (2)  Members are to be appointed by the Governor‑General on the recommendation of the Minister.

             (3)  In recommending a person for appointment as a member, the Minister must have regard to the desirability of having people of diverse backgrounds on the Commission, as well as people of different occupational and social backgrounds, including people who normally reside in different parts of Australia.

             (4)  The following persons may not be recommended for appointment as a member:

                     (a)  a member of a Parliament of Australia or of a State or Territory;

                     (b)  a Councillor;

                     (c)  an electorate officer;

                     (d)  a Ministerial officer;

                     (e)  a Parliamentary adviser.

             (5)  A member of the Commission:

                     (a)  holds office for the term, not exceeding 4 years, that is specified in his or her instrument of appointment; and

                     (b)  must be appointed on a part‑time basis unless appointed as the Chair; and

                     (c)  is eligible for re‑appointment to a second or third term; and

                     (d)  may be removed from office at any time by the Governor‑General on the recommendation of the Minister.

             (6)  A member:

                     (a)  holds office on the terms and conditions specified in his or her instrument of appointment; and

                     (b)  may resign from office by delivering a signed letter of resignation to the Minister.

             (7)  The office of a member becomes vacant if he or she fails, without giving prior notice to the Chair, to attend 3 consecutive meetings of the Commission of which he or she has received notice.

21  Validity of decisions

                   An act or decision of the Commission is not invalid merely because of:

                     (a)  a defect or irregularity in, or in connection with, the appointment of a member of the Commission; or

                     (b)  a vacancy in the membership of the Commission.

22  Chair of the Commission

             (1)  The Governor‑General, on the recommendation of the Minister, must appoint one of the members of the Commission to be the Chair of the Commission.

             (2)  The Governor‑General must appoint the Chair to act on a full‑time basis.

             (3)  The Chair must not directly or indirectly engage in any other paid employment or carry on a business, profession or trade without the consent of the Minister.

23  Staff of the Commission

             (1)  The staff necessary to assist the Commission shall be persons engaged under the Public Service Act 1999.

             (2)  For the purposes of the Public Service Act 1999:

                     (a)  the Chair and the APS employees assisting the Chair together constitute a Statutory Agency; and

                     (b)  the Chair is the head of that Statutory Agency.

24  Deputy Chair of the Commission

                   The Governor‑General, on the recommendation of the Minister, must appoint one of the members of the Commission to be the Deputy Chair of the Commission.

25  Acting Chair of the Commission

             (1)  The Minister may appoint a member of the Commission to act as the Chair during a vacancy in the office of the Chair.

             (2)  An Acting Chair is appointed for the period, not exceeding 3 months, specified in his or her instrument of appointment as the Acting Chair.

             (3)  An Acting Chair is subject to the terms and conditions specified in his or her instrument of appointment as the Acting Chair.

26  When the Commission is to meet

             (1)  The Chair must ensure that there are at least 6 meetings of the Commission each year.

             (2)  The dates of meeting are to be determined by the Chair.

             (3)  If more than half of the members of the Commission request in writing for a meeting to be held on a particular date, the Chair must organise a meeting to be held on that date. The meeting must be organised at least 3 days prior to that date.

27  Procedure at meetings

             (1)  The Chair or, in his or her absence, the Deputy Chair or, in the absence of both the Chair and Deputy Chair, a member of the Commission elected by the members present at the meeting, must preside at a meeting of the Commission.

             (2)  The quorum for a meeting of the Commission is half of the members for the time being.

             (3)  A question arising at a meeting of the Commission is determined by a majority of the votes of the members present and voting on the question.

             (4)  The person presiding at a meeting has a deliberative vote and, in the event of an equal number of votes on any question, a second or casting vote.

             (5)  The person presiding at a meeting must ensure that the decisions made at the meeting are recorded in writing.

             (6)  The Chair must ensure that a copy of any such decisions are given to the Minister within 14 days after the meeting.

             (7)  Subject to this Act, the Commission may regulate its own procedure.

Division 3Inquiries

28  Matters in relation to which the Commission may conduct inquiries

                   The Commission may conduct inquiries into any of the following:

                     (a)  whether Commonwealth conduct is contrary to Australia’s multicultural policy;

                     (b)  the laws that should be made by the Commonwealth Parliament:

                              (i)  in relation to a matter covered by the objects of this Act; or

                             (ii)  to better promote Australia’s multicultural policy;

                     (c)  any action that should be taken by the Commonwealth, or by the Government of a Territory:

                              (i)  in relation to a matter covered by the objects of this Act; or

                             (ii)  to better promote Australia’s multicultural policy;

                     (d)  any other action that should be taken by Australia to better comply with Australia’s multicultural policy.

29  Commission not to inquire into conduct of intelligence agencies

                   The Commission must not conduct an inquiry into conduct:

                     (a)  engaged in by an intelligence agency; or

                     (b)  that is otherwise related to the activities of an intelligence agency.

30  Main purpose of inquiry is to make recommendations

                   The main purpose of an inquiry is for the Commission:

                     (a)  to consider whether any recommendations should be made in relation to the matter that is the subject of the inquiry; and

                     (b)  if the Commission considers that recommendations should be made—to include those recommendations in a report to the Minister under section 33.

31  Initiating inquiries

Commission may initiate inquiries

             (1)  The Commission may, on its own initiative, conduct an inquiry into a particular matter covered by section 28 if the Commission considers that conducting the inquiry:

                     (a)  will or may advance the objects of this Act; and

                     (b)  is in the public interest.

Minister may initiate inquiries

             (2)  The Minister may, in writing, request the Commission to conduct an inquiry into a particular matter covered by section 28 if the Minister considers that conducting the inquiry:

                     (a)  will or may advance the objects of this Act; and

                     (b)  is in the public interest.

The Commission must comply with the request.

             (3)  A request under subsection (2) is not a legislative instrument.

32  Commission’s general discretion as to how to conduct inquiries

             (1)  The Commission may conduct an inquiry in any way that the Commission considers appropriate.

             (2)  The Commission is not bound by rules of evidence when conducting an inquiry.

33  Commission to report to Minister on inquiry

             (1)  As soon as practicable after completing an inquiry, the Commission must give the Minister a written report on the inquiry.

             (2)  Without limiting the generality of subsection (1), the report must include any recommendations that the Commission considers should be made in relation to the matter that was the subject of the inquiry.

34  Minister to table report on inquiry in Parliament

             (1)  As soon as practicable after receiving a written report on an inquiry, the Minister must table the report in each House of Parliament.

             (2)  Within 60 days of receiving the report, the Minister must publish the report on the internet.

Part 6Miscellaneous

  

35  Delegation

                   The Commission may, by instrument, delegate to a member or to 2 or more members any of its powers in relation to—

                     (a)  an inquiry initiated by the Commission under subsection 31(1); or

                     (b)  an inquiry to be conducted in respect of a matter referred to the Commission for inquiry by the Minister under subsection 31(2).

36  Annual report

                   The annual report prepared by the Chair and given to the Minister under section 46 of the PGPA Act for a period must:

                     (a)  if the Commission has decided, during the period, to conduct an inquiry about a matter—include prescribed particulars about the matter; and

                     (b)  if the Minister has requested the Commission, during the period, to conduct an inquiry about the matter—include prescribed particulars about the matter; and

                     (c)  include the names of the recipients of any grants made by the Commission during the period.

37  Legislative rules

             (1)  The Minister may, by legislative instrument, make rules (legislative rules) prescribing matters:

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

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

             (2)  To avoid doubt, the legislative rules may not do the following:

                     (a)  create an offence or civil penalty;

                     (b)  provide powers of:

                              (i)  arrest or detention; or

                             (ii)  entry, search or seizure;

                     (c)  impose a tax;

                     (d)  set an amount to be appropriated from the Consolidated Revenue Fund under an appropriation in this Act;

                     (e)  directly amend the text of this Act.