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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 4 Hansard (10 April) . . Page.. 1284..


MR SESELJA (continuing):

to be amended, but before we support it I would like those things set out more clearly so that we know exactly how this would work in practice.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (11.57): I will seek to speak to Mr Seselja's amendment, even though I do not have it in front of me.

MADAM ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Mrs Dunne): But I am sure that you have the capacity to do so.

MR CORBELL: Thank you for that vote of confidence, Madam Assistant Speaker. Generally speaking, the government strongly supports this proposal by Mr Berry and we do feel that it is appropriate that we stay in step with the advances that have occurred in other parliaments when it comes to advice available to members on issues that have a strong ethical dimension. The provision of advice by an appointed ethics adviser is now a feature of services available to members in other parliaments around the country, notably in the large state parliaments such as New South Wales.

The government approached this issue looking at the whole range of issues that were potentially of concern and I would like to commend Mr Berry for the approach he has adopted in seeking to address these issues of concern as they have been raised in discussion. Of particular concern to the government was that the role of the ethics adviser would not be abused by members and, for example, used to seek commentary on the appropriateness or otherwise of actions by other members in this place. Mr Berry has been able to very clearly put on the record that that is not the intention, nor would it be the role of the ethics adviser to seek to provide commentary to a member on a third party, whether it be another member, another political party or some other entity or individual. So it is reassuring for all members in this place that the role of the ethics adviser is to give that advice directly to a member who seeks it on the issues that they themselves are confronting and are seeking guidance on. I think that is a useful development.

I note that Mr Seselja argues that there should be increased resources for the Assembly secretariat, in particular to the role of committees in the Assembly secretariat. This is an issue that has always been of interest to non-executive members in this place, and certainly in my experience as a non-executive member it has always been the case that the committee secretariat could have more resources. But these are always a function of the allocation of resources overall and it is, of course, a matter which needs to be determined between the Speaker and the executive. I know that the government has always sought to respond as appropriately as possible to requests by the Speaker for additional resources for the Assembly. The Assembly itself, of course, can make a recommendation to the government, and has from time to time, on the level of resources that should be made available to it to perform its functions.

I would have to say, overwhelmingly, that the committee system in the Assembly works well. It provides a good level of scrutiny of government decision making and proposals before the Assembly. It works effectively in calling ministers and their officials to account to explain their decisions. I think we have a very robust committee system here in the ACT. Of course, an opposition will always want it to be more


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