SUBMISSIONS are now being called upon as the senate inquiry into the Australian Law ReformCommission takes off.
The LawReform Commission will be scrutinised in an inquiry and report into its role,governance arrangements and statutory responsibilities. The adequacy of itsstaffing and resources, and appropriate allocation o functions between the ALRCad other statutory agencies will also be weighed up.
The inquiry comes after Senator Guy Barnett, Liberal senator for Tasmania and chairof the Senate Committee that will conduct the inquiry, said it is a timely one,the first in 17 years.
“Overthe last three years the ALRC’s resources have been stripped disproportionatelyto government outlays, which is putting serious law reform at risk in thiscountry,” he said.
Barnettsaid the ALRC has reportedly suffered staff turnover of close to 100 per centover the past year, “raising serious concerns about stability within theCommission”.
“Thereare also questions over whether the ALRC is complying with its charter whichsets out the minimum number of full time commissioners,” he said.
“Havingfewer Commissioners and resources has diminished the capacity of theCommission, which the Government confirmed is now barely able to handle twoinquiries at once.”
SenatorJoseph Ludwig, the Queensland Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry,responded that the work of the Australian Law Reform Commission as regarded as “important to a vibrant andsustainable legal system”.
Ludwigsaid the government is confident that the commission's current level ofmembership is “sufficient to carry out its important work”.
“Thegovernment intends to make greater use of short-term appointments to enable eminentpersons who are experts in the field of inquiry to contribute to particularreferences, and the government will continue to liaise with the ALRC regardingthe need for future appointments.
“Interms of workload, the ALRC currently has a full workload and is undertakingtwo inquiries which can be identified on the web. In terms of funding, thegovernment must be prudent and responsible in its expenditure of taxpayers'money. Savings measures have been taken across government as part of thegovernment's medium-term fiscal strategy.
“Whilethe achievement of these measures is a matter for the commission to determine,the ALRC has advised that it has considered options for administrative ratherthan operational savings, including using alternative office locations andenhancing the use of online strategies to engage with stakeholders,” Ludwigsaid.