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The Suspension and Reinstatement of the RDA and Special Measures in the NTER

The Suspension and Reinstatement of the RDA and Special Measures in the NTER

2. Proposed change in the 2009 Welfare Reform Bill

In 2009, following the review of the NTER legislation which was reported to the government in October 2008 and consultations with the prescribed communities in the NT, the Government introduced a bill to reinstate the RDA and re-design some of the NTER measures.

The Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform and Reinstatement of Racial Discrimination Act) Bill 2009 (2009 Welfare Reform Bill) amended several Acts relating to income management arrangements under the social security law and the NTER. The Bill also repealed sections of the NTER legislation that suspended the operation of the RDA.

Specifically, the 2009 Welfare Reform Bill proposed the repeal of the provisions of the NTER Act, FCSIA Act, and SSWP Act which provided that the Acts and anything done under the Acts was excluded from the operation of Part 2 of the RDA.

The provisions relating to lifting the suspension on the RDA were proposed to commence on 31 December 2010 and were not retrospective.

2.1. Repeal of the ‘special measures’ deeming provisions and insertion of special measures objects clauses.

The 2009 Welfare Reform Bill repealed the provisions of the NTER Act, FCSIA Act and SSWP Actwhich provided that the provisions of these Acts and anything done under, or for the purposes of these provisions are, for the purposes of the RDA, special measures. The 2009 Welfare Reform Bill also proposed the insertion, in their place, of objects clauses in relation to four Parts of the NTER legislation.

Each clause stated that the object of the Part was “to enable special measures to be taken” for particular purposes. Those purposes were:

  • alcohol restrictions;
  • five-year leases;
  • community store licensing; and
  • prohibited material restrictions.

Similar object clauses were not proposed for:

  • controls on use of publicly funded computers;
  • law enforcement powers; and
  • business management areas powers.

However, the Government indicated that it considered these additional three measures to be ‘special measures’ for the purposes of the RDA. [15]


[15] Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Policy Statement: Landmark Reform to the Welfare System, Reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act and Strengthening of the Northern Territory Emergency Response, (2009), pp 12-14. At /policy_statement_nter/Documents/land mark_reform_welfare_system.pdf (referred to in the Commission’s submission on the Bill at fn 14)