Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 7 Hansard (17 June) . . Page.. 2475..
MS LE COUTEUR (continuing):
going to be the person who decided whether or not the risk, whatever the risk was of this going possibly to appeal, was actually taken by the government. Mr Barr was the person who was going to make that decision; so it was relevant for the estimates committee to ask Mr Barr.
It was a valid concern that Mr Barr chose to politicise the whole process by saying it is just a political process and therefore we should not be concerned about it. Ms Gallagher said the objections were reasonable. It is really unclear to me and, I think, my colleagues why the reasonable process was not followed at least by the minister coming in and talking to us about it.
Finally, I think Mr Barr was being contemptuous of the committee process by not coming when we called. Bearing that in mind, I would like to move the amendment to Mr Seselja's motion which has been circulated in my name. I move:
Omit all words after "That the Assembly", substitute: "admonishes the Minister for Planning for his contempt shown to the Assembly by his refusal to appear before the Estimates Committee, thereby limiting Assembly scrutiny of his decisions in relation to the ACT 2009-2010 Budget.".
MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Minister for Transport, Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Minister for the Arts and Heritage) (3.22): This is a derisory motion and a derisory amendment. I think members do need to understand some of the incidents that govern government responsibility and statutory responsibilities and the need for the Assembly, for the parliament, to be able to distinguish itself from executive responsibility and executive roles.
Mr Barr was faced with a possibility of calling in, under a statutory power or pursuant to a statutory power, a development consistent with his statutory responsibility, and the committee placed into its mind, in relation to that exercise of the statutory power, the need to call and examine a minister in relation to that potential exercise. I think it is quite unreasonable. Particularly in the context of a committee with terms of reference established explicitly to review a bill, an appropriation bill, to question the exercise by a minister of a statutory power in relation to a matter that is not subject, in relation to his administrative responsibilities, to an appropriation is probably beyond the capacity of the committee. I think it is reasonable to assume that the request by the committee exceeded its terms of reference and its capacity.
The responsible minister was the Minister for Health. The appropriation item was an appropriation item within the ambit or the purview of the Minister for Health, not the Minister for Planning. The Minister for Planning had been invited, requested, by the Minister for Health to consider a call-in of a project in exercise of a statutory power pursuant to his responsibilities as a member of the executive, and you want to examine, you want to cross-examine, him in relation to the exercise by him of his statutory powers. That is inappropriate. It is not appropriate.
I think you need to understand the separation between the executive and the parliament—an executive responsibility and an executive role—and you need to