Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Amendment Bill 2015
Mr HAWKE (Mitchell—Assistant Minister to the Treasurer) (16:21): The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Amendment Bill 2015 is a significant step forward for the AIATSIS reform agenda. The bill will amend the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Act 1989 to update the appointment process for the AIATSIS Council. This will be done to better reflect the skills needed for effective governance and diversity while retaining an Indigenous majority on the council. The bill will refocus the functions of AIATSIS from its current eight functions down to five. The revised functions will allow AIATSIS to function on its strengths in research, education, collection and preservation. This will ensure a better targeting of resources and direct maximum effort towards preserving the pre-eminent collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage.
I do not think we can underestimate the historical and cultural significance of the AIATSIS collection. It comprises over a million items of Indigenous and Australian culture and heritage value—the value of which cannot be quantified. Managing such a collection is an immense responsibility and brings many challenges for AIATSIS. This bill is part of the government's ongoing commitment to continue the work with Professor Mick Dodson AM and the AIATSIS Council to ensure the future of this important national institution. I would like to thank honourable members for their comments and commend the bill to the House.