Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (14 June) . . Page.. 1714..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
I must say that to some extent some of my aggravation is focused on the role which Mr Moore plays as a member of cabinet. It is something that I still do not fully understand, that I am not particularly comfortable with, to the extent that it has blurred what I regard as a significant issue in terms of accountability of governments, namely, the need for some understanding of what is a government's decision. That boils down, so often, to whether or not each member of the executive agrees to be bound, as a unit, to decisions that the executive promulgates. This is another significant blurring. It is one of those areas that I do not think we have thrashed out well and that there is not a unanimity of understanding about.
I raise that, Mr Moore, without wishing to be personal, but I am still not fully aware of the real change to the conventions that we have adopted here, and whether we have adopted it forever. You have one view of it and I have another. There is another view somewhere within the depths of House of Representatives Practice that perhaps we could all fall back on or ignore if we choose if it advantages us to ignore it in any particular circumstance.
I think this bill is unnecessary at this point. I accept much if not most of what Mr Humphries said in his comments on this. I do acknowledge, of course, as always that some of the comments he made about the government's positional response simply reflect the politics of the position which the government has taken and has been forced into in relation to the matter.
MR SPEAKER: Before I call Mr Kaine, I would like to acknowledge the presence in the gallery of years 4 and 5 of Duffy Primary School. Welcome to your Assembly.
MR KAINE (11.38): I will be quite brief because I think the Chief Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have spelt out some important issues here which have slowly emerged during this interesting experiment in minority government that we have in the territory.
I will not support this legislation because I think we have to be careful how far we go in diminishing the responsibility and the accountability of the executive. We could, over a period of time, enact all sort of legislation, each in itself slowly diminishing the responsibility and accountability of the government and consequentially making us all collectively responsible rather than making the executive responsible, and I think that is a dangerous process, particularly when the debate that the Leader of the Opposition spoke about has not really taken place.
Looking back over the last 12 years, there have not been very many occasions when the majority of the Assembly has taken issue with the government over a decision or a non-decision and tried to impose its will on the government. Those circumstances have been quite rare. So I think we can say that, in general, executive government in the territory, despite the fact that our governments have all been minority governments, has been effective. There has been some blurring, as the Leader of the Opposition said, in the various responsibilities of the executive as opposed to the legislature, even in some cases the responsibilities of the administration versus the responsibilities of the executive and the legislature.