|The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Amendment Bill 2004 was introduced into Parliament on 27 May 2004 and was referred shortly thereafter to the Senate Select Committee on the Administration of Indigenous Affairs. The Committee was to examine the provisions of the Bill, the proposed administration of Indigenous programs and services by mainstream departments and agencies and related matters. The Bill lapsed when Federal Parliament was prorogued for the 2004 elections. It was subsequently reintroduced in December 2004. The Select Committee had also lapsed but was reappointed in November 2004 with identical membership and terms of reference. The Committee tabled its report entitled After ATSIC - Life in the Mainstream? on 8 March 2005.|
The Report described the Bill and its main provisions in the following way:
'The ATSIC Amendment Bill repeals or amends large parts of the ATSIC Act 1989, as well as making consequential amendments to a range of other legislation. Its effect is essentially to do away with ATSIC as an elected representative body with specific powers and responsibilities and to distribute its program functions among other Commonwealth departments. ATSIC’s international representative role, in particular, is not replaced or paralleled in the new arrangements. The main provisions:
effectively abolish ATSIC, repealing the sections governing its functions, constitution, administration and operations;
leave the Torres Strait Regional Authority intact, but abolish the Torres Strait Islander Advisory Board (as there will no longer be an ATSIC for it to advise);
transfer oversight of Regional Councils from ATSIC to the Minister, and provide for the abolition of Regional Councils from July 2005;
preserve the Office of Evaluation and Audit, changing its functions to evaluate or audit ‘relevant programs administered by Australian Government bodies; and ... the activities of any individual or organisation that has received funding under any relevant program’. Relevant programs are defined as those that use resources to further ‘the social, economic or cultural development of Aboriginal persons or Torres Strait Islanders’;
transfer the Regional Land Fund to the Indigenous Land Corporation; and
transfer the Housing Fund and Business Development Program to Indigenous Business Australia.'
(Senate Select Committee on the Administration of Indigenous Affairs, Parliament of Australia, After ATSIC - Life in the Mainstream? (2005): http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/indigenousaffairs_ctte/report/final/index.htm (at 11 April 2005)).
The passage of this legislation paves the way for the Federal Government's new governance and administrative arrangements for Indigenous Affairs and Indigenous service and program delivery.