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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 22 June 1995) . . Page.. 1074 ..


MR WHITECROSS: Indeed, and I am coming to that, Mr De Domenico. If Mr Kaine is interested in pursuing the issue of economic development, that is to be applauded. The Government's concern about the ability of members to pursue their interests and to develop their understanding of issues of concern to the governance of the Territory is not reflected in their willingness to allow Opposition members to participate in the committee process. While Mr Kaine says that in the last six years he has come to recognise that not every member can serve on every committee, Mr Kaine might also recall that when he was in opposition there were five-member committees, which there are not any more. When he was in opposition there were more standing committees than there are now and there were, therefore, more opportunities for Opposition members to participate in the committee process than we have at the moment.

They are the kinds of issues we would like to be considered in a review of the committees. While Mr Kaine has a fulfilling workload of committees - he is on three committees, if I recall correctly - Opposition members have been excluded from the committee process to the extent of being on only one committee each, apart from Mr Berry, who is on the Administration and Procedure Committee.

Mr De Domenico: He is on the Planning Committee and he is chairing another committee as well. That is three.

MR WHITECROSS: That is a select committee, yes.

Mr De Domenico: That is different, is it? It does not count?

MR WHITECROSS: It does not count.

Ms Follett: I am on only one.

MR WHITECROSS: Yes, everyone else is on only one, Mr De Domenico. The point I am making is that the structure of the standing committees, which has been determined by the Government with the support of others, is one that reduces the number of committees, the opportunities for participation in committees, and the opportunities for members of the Opposition to have some input and to develop their understanding of issues being considered in the committee process. We feel that it would be appropriate for a review of committees to be more broad-ranging, rather than rushing through this ad hoc one.

There has been some discussion of the numbers, and it would appear that the numbers are here to make this particular change and so it will happen; but we would not like to see this being the end of the matter. We think there are other issues that ought to be considered. We are concerned that this sort of ad hoc approach signals that we are happy to proceed with some things while other things will be bogged down in this discussion. I do not agree with Mr Kaine that the capacity of the Planning Committee to consider environmental matters would be inhibited by separation, while the capacity of the Planning Committee to consider economic development issues, which are equally relevant to planning, is not going to be inhibited by this separation. We do need to consider things in a more holistic way than is being done at the moment, and that is why we are opposing this amendment at this time.


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