Please note: This is an extract from Hansard only. Hansard extracts are reproduced with permission from the Parliament of Western Australia.

Date: Wednesday, 5 April 2006


Introduction and First Reading

Bill introduced, on motion by Mr F.M. Logan (Minister for Science and Innovation), and read a first time.
Explanatory memorandum presented by the minister.

Second Reading

MR F.M. LOGAN (Cockburn - Minister for Science and Innovation) [12.20 pm]: I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to establish the Chemistry Centre, which is an office within the Department of Industry and Resources, as a statutory authority. Under various names the Chemistry Centre has a long history of providing a service to the Western Australian government. This analytical chemistry function has operated continuously since the 1890s, with its capacities and capabilities evolving over time to meet the demands of the day.
In May 2003, a review team was established to investigate and make recommendations on the future of the Chemistry Centre. The key findings of the 2003 review were: the Chemistry Centre provides essential services to government, particularly in the high-risk areas of forensic science, crisis response, occupational and public health issues and the management of environmental incidents; and the government should remain in effective control of the high-risk activities currently delivered by the Chemistry Centre because failure poses an unacceptable threat to the community and the achievement of government objectives. Outsourcing of core services was not considered feasible.

Following the review, a chemistry steering committee was established in February 2004 to make recommendations on how the Chemistry Centre might be constituted to best deliver the services and outcomes required by government. After considering the merits of the organisational structures available, the chemistry steering committee reached the conclusion that the new Chemistry Centre should become a statutory authority with the powers to undertake, and expand on, the functions currently performed by the Chemistry Centre. A statutory authority offers a robust, flexible structure capable of overcoming the issues identified with the departmental options. The benefits include: purpose, functions and powers clearly stated in new legislation; direct government control over essential services in high-risk areas; a level of profile, autonomy and long-term stability not available in the other models; ability to participate in business arrangements with the appropriate approvals; and, a governing board to ensure close alignment to the needs of industry and the state.

The chemistry steering committee believes that establishing the Chemistry Centre as a statutory authority will not only ensure the delivery of the core chemical services required by government, but also will support the chemistry-based education, fundamental and applied research essential for innovation and the expansion of the Western Australian economy. The proposal that the Chemistry Centre should be a statutory authority is supported by key clients and stakeholders of the Chemistry Centre. I commend the bill to the house.

Debate adjourned, on motion by Dr G.G. Jacobs.