Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 1 Hansard (9 February) . .
MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (10.07): Madam Speaker, firstly the convention has not been accepted because we actually moved that the committees be three-member committees, not four-member committees, and if those opposite had acknowledged the problems that would be caused by moving to four-member committees, which is inconsistent with the Latimer House principles, we would not be in this place that we are in today. But let me make it very clear that the concern I articulated publicly is not, now that we have four-member committees, the fact that there should be a government chair and opposition deputy chair or vice versa. It is simply with an individual holding that position.
The reality is that we all are elected to this place and we have positions to fulfil, be it in the executive, as parliamentarians on the backbench or as members of committees. But who actually chairs and who is a deputy chair of those committees reflects on all of us in the Assembly. It is a decision that we need to make about the standards of this place. And we must have confidence in members of those committees whom we select as chairs and whom we select as deputy chairs and believe that they have the confidence of the community.
I note that the Chief Minister has not served on committees but, for his edification, the job of chair and, in their absence, particularly deputy chair requires the trust and the cooperation of the other committee members regardless of their political affiliation. I have served as a committee chair and I have served on committees with both Labor chairs and Greens chairs and deputy chairs in both the last Assembly and this Assembly. I have no issue with who is on committees—and there needs to be a balance—but my very firm view, and that of my colleagues, is that Ms Burch should not be elevated to the position of chair or deputy chair.
This is about taking the committee system and appointments in this Assembly seriously. I note that this government takes positions of the executive, I would hope, seriously and has made the decision to remove Ms Burch from the executive. I do not think that it is a good thing to say that a member is not fit to serve in the executive but is then fit to serve as a committee chair. Committee chairs hold a position of responsibility. They have significant responsibilities to this Assembly and to the community and their responsibilities should not be taken lightly.
There are three issues at play that lead me to this conclusion. The first is that there is a police investigation into allegations regarding Ms Burch's former chief of staff, and that investigation is ongoing. The second is that we are aware, based on what the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister have said, of further investigations of serious matters in Ms Burch's office that apparently are unprecedented and are serious. We have not been advised what they are. The third issue is the litany of maladministration that has led not only us in this place but a significant number of people in the community, including the Education Union, clearly the Chief Police Officer, school communities and so on, to have a loss of confidence in Ms Burch.
I go to some detail on these points. A police investigation into allegations regarding Ms Burch's former chief of staff is ongoing. We do not know the full details of that but, based on reports in the Canberra Times on Saturday by the staff member under
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