New ideas for choosing advisors

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 April, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 April, 2003, 12:00am

A consultation paper on the government's review of advisory and statutory bodies was released yesterday, promising greater transparency and accountability in the appointment and operation of the committees.

The paper provides a set of guiding principles for government bureaus to consider, including the possible abolition and merger of defunct or overlapping committees and the establishment of selection criteria in appointing members.

Stephen Fisher, the Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs, said the review of the nearly 500 advisory bodies and their 3,000 members would force bureaus to explain their policies and be accountable for appointments to the bodies.

'As a general rule, one person should not serve on more than six boards or for more than six years,' he said. 'Right now, out of 3,000-odd members, 78 are on more than six boards. In these cases, we will ask department heads to give us a reason as to why nobody else could be found to replace them.'

Department heads would also be called on to follow established principles on remuneration and to decide on a system for members to declare their interests.

The review aims to increase the number of women - who are vastly underrepresented on such committees - to at least 25 per cent of membership.

'We have written to more than 300 bodies asking them to recommend women we could invite to join our database of candidates for appointment,' Mr Fisher said. 'But members of the public can also approach us directly to volunteer.'

The paper is available on the Home Affairs Bureau Web site at The deadline for submissions is May 31.