Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2013 Week 14 Hansard (28 November) . . Page.. 4404..
We only need to reflect back on draft variation 308 to the territory plan that was dealt with by the planning committee. Having it come into this Assembly and then sent back to the committee for re-approval highlights some of the issues that are involved in the standing orders. Dr Bourke's amendment to the standing orders does not address those sorts of issues. I believe Mr Smyth's comprehensive proposal to vary the standing orders does go a long way to doing that. The best way for all of it to be addressed would be through the admin and procedures committee. It seems fair that, instead of looking at one variation in isolation here today and sending the rest off to be dealt with in three months time, the whole committee structure, as it is dealt with in the standing orders, is looked at comprehensively and in one job lot.
I go to some of the small changes in Dr Bourke's motion. One is that the chair shall propose the question that the paragraphs or appendixes be agreed to. It is how the process continues now. It does not add any clarity or any certainty, and it most certainly will not stop the nobbling that is occurring in the committee structure where a report is written from one perspective or another and there is very little opportunity for compromise or common ground to be found. When you have got two votes one way and two votes the other, it is always going to be resolved in the negative, which means that amendments are never going to get up and variations are not going to get up. So the reports will continue to clearly illustrate the views of one side of politics or the other.
I really think that is a travesty as to the way that the committees are operating in this place. It is not just the Assembly structure that is missing out on a great opportunity, but the wider community. We are failing in one of our core duties here with the committee structure—seeking out the views of the community and reporting them back through to government. As long as this two-two committee structure prevails, the committee structure in this place will not function properly and the reporting will be viewed through the guise of one partisan view or another.
DR BOURKE (Ginninderra) (11.49), in reply: I rise to close the debate, Madam Deputy Speaker. I listened to the speeches from both Mr Hanson and Mr Wall. I was surprised when Mr Hanson talked about the motion that I have brought forward. He seemed confused. He did not realise that my motion is actually incorporated in Mr Smyth's motion.
Opposition members interjecting—
DR BOURKE: When we look at Mr Smyth's motion, what he has done is take a bit out of one standing order and shuffled it down, a bit out of another standing order and shuffled it around. It has not changed any of the words. He has incorporated my piece in his new draft 249A. And then he has brought in some pieces based on House of Reps practice, which already, as we know, applies. It is probably good to state them in the standing orders—very helpful. But as Mr Gentleman has pointed out, 250B stymies the capacity of committee members to deliver dissenting reports when there is no agreement. This is the essence of what the Chief Minister was talking about—the capacity for committees to be able to provide dissenting reports.
Mr Smyth interjecting—