Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 2 Hansard (21 February) . . Page.. 489..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
So I hope that members will support this motion. Bear in mind that if this process should turn out to be onerous or not working for some reason, then of course there can always be another discussion and debate in this place, and my motion can be amended in some way.
An alternative to this motion would be to include this process in the annual reports legislation. I considered this but, after discussions with members, I found that there was some concern that there would be a loss of flexibility in respect of annual reports if we took this approach and that people would be more interested in seeing how it worked. I am not convinced at all that we should be worried about flexibility being lost. I think this would be an improvement to the system of the Assembly.
I attended a conference of the Australasian Parliamentary Group where there was a discussion about committees and the work of committees. There was a lot of interest from the members of that conference about the proposal that I am putting today in terms of it being something that other parliaments might want to look at. One of the ongoing issues in a discussion of how parliaments or assemblies work is the role of committees. Committees are obviously recognised as being a very valuable part of the workings of parliaments because they give members of a parliament the opportunity to undertake more detailed work in a bipartisan way on subjects that are of interest to the parliament. Committee work obviously also gives members an opportunity to work with the community and understand their perspectives. Parliament can be informed through this very effective form of consultation.
This motion is important because it will give the community more confidence that in fact the work they put into committee submissions will be taken seriously by the parliament. Every year we will be able to see how the government of the day has responded to the recommendations it has agreed to. I am hoping that this will mean that we will all feel more confident about the amount of time we spent on committees.
MR WOOD (Minister for Urban Services and Minister for the Arts) (3.40): Mr Speaker, the government is happy to support the main thrust of Ms Tucker's motion as one that contributes to greater accountability and transparency within government. To a large degree it is a good move. The government should, as a result of the implementation of this motion, improve the way it takes on the recommendations arising from this Assembly.
It is probably also good for committees, which will need to be, I think, a little more careful about their recommendations and not fill up reports with lots of good motherhood stuff-stuff that we might want, urgently needed stuff perhaps, but stuff that really cannot be implemented.
I recall that a lot of responses to reports contain the words "Agree in principle", and I think there would be a problem down the track in implementing such a response. But we agree in principle. We also agree that annual reports are an appropriate vehicle for monitoring the implementation of the recommendations of Assembly committees agreed to by government.