Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 1 Hansard (9 February) . . Page.. 21..
MS LE COUTEUR (continuing):
I would like to take a moment to explain to the house why the public accounts committee is suggesting this change or this authorisation.
On 7 August 2009 the Auditor-General presented a performance audit entitled Administration of employment issues for staff of members of the Legislative Assembly to the Speaker. I imagine that all members have read that, but it was an audit that examined issues relating to the termination payments to MLA staff, the use of volunteers by MLAs and the management of attendance and leave records by MLA staff.
As you can imagine, when it came to PAC we were in something of a dilemma as to what to do with it. Clearly, every member of PAC being an MLA, we had employment contracts with staff, so we formed a view—we did not have to make a lot of effort to form the view—that there were clearly potential conflict of interest issues arising from the examination of the report, particularly given section 15 of the act and standing order 156. Standing order 156 states:
A Member who is a party to, or has a direct or indirect interest in, a contract made by or on behalf of the Territory or a Territory authority shall not take part in a discussion of a matter, or vote on a question, in a meeting of the Assembly where the matter or question relates directly or indirectly to that contract. Any question concerning the application of this standing order shall be decided by the Assembly.
So the Assembly is in a position to make a decision on this. In looking at it, the committee felt that it was in fact in the public interest for someone, some part of the Assembly, to look at the Auditor-General's report rather than it simply being noted and not addressed. In considering that, we wondered whether there would be any committee other than PAC to deal with the matter. But every other committee had exactly the same conflict of interest issues as PAC, so we could not see that as being a solution to our problem.
We did take advice from the Clerk about the conflict of interest issues. After considering that and debating it amongst ourselves, we decided that moving the motion which I moved today was probably, all things considered, the best way forward. It is desirable that the Assembly consider the Auditor-General's report into the matters which relate to internal administration. PAC is the logical committee to do so, and the conflict of interest issues will be there regardless of which committee deals with the matter. So I seek the Assembly's agreement by passing this motion that, given the situation, this is the best way forward.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Well Station Drive extension
Statement by minister
MR BARR (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Planning, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation and Minister for Gaming and Racing), by leave: On 11 November last year, the Assembly agreed to a motion put forward by