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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 8 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 3007..


MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

government is one that is sensibly linked to the needs for confidentiality at times within our system of government, one that ensures effective use of resources, and one that engages with both the Assembly and the wider Canberra population in a democratic process that involves constructive and beneficial conversations that promote trust and respect between the community and government.

MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (4.19): The Greens initiated seminal work in the area of open, accountable government for the Seventh Assembly of the ACT by proposing a process of developing a framework in the spirit of the Latimer House principles. We ensured that, in return for our support of the Labor Party to form government, an agenda of parliamentary reform was affirmed, an agenda that we believe has established the ACT Assembly as the leader in scrutinising and opening up the processes of government and taking a more collaborative and inclusive approach to the processes of parliament.

The parliamentary reform agenda was based on the endorsement of the Latimer House principles. As a result, several changes were made to standing orders, and inquiries were initiated into the feasibility of a parliamentary budget officer as well as the development and implementation of an evaluation plan for the Latimer House principles. My colleague Shane Rattenbury, in the Assembly last December when the principles were endorsed, said:

The Latimer House principles describe best practice for the relationship between parliament, the executive and the judiciary and provide guidelines which are designed to ensure protection of the sovereignty of parliament and the independence of the judiciary—two critical components of democratic governance.

The principles underline the importance of separation of powers but also acknowledge the complexity of the relationship between the three branches of government. They accord a high value to integrity and strong oversight agencies, which are critical components of an emerging fourth sphere of our system of democracy and protection of human rights.

This fourth sphere is sometimes called the integrity branch.

The ACT Greens MLAs believe that their first responsibility as members of the Legislative Assembly for the ACT is to the people of Canberra. We gave a commitment before the election to a stable and accountable government. Our accountability reform agenda expands on the principles and guidelines of the Assembly, with specific proposals relevant to the committee system, parliamentary procedures, parliamentary resources and enhanced integrity, including through improved access to information, supportive structures for oversight institutions and improved electoral law. As a result, our capacity in the Assembly to progress reform, to pass legislation, to draw in community and expert evidence, and to hold the government to account from the crossbench has been enhanced by this reform agenda.

Meaningful endorsement of the Latimer House principles requires ongoing commitment to their promotion, development and implementation, including an evaluation process. Therefore if we as an Assembly are serious about ensuring that we


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