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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2338..

MRS CARNELL (continuing):

To go on, the peak groups we met with were the Association of Parents and Friends of ACT Schools Inc.; the ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations; the ACT Chamber of Commerce and Industry; the Canberra Business Council Inc.; the Building Owners and Managers Association, ACT Division; the Motor Trades Association; ACT Sports House, ACTSport; and the Canberra Police and Citizens Youth Club. There were Michael Moore, Lucy Horodny and Kerrie Tucker. We spoke to Mr Osborne as well. In the environment area, there were the Australian Conservation Council and Greening Australia, ACT and South-East New South Wales; there was the Trades and Labour Council; the Canberra Rates Association - that was an exciting meeting; the Council on the Ageing, ACT; the ACT Council of Social Service; the Community Information and Referral Service of the ACT; and then there were the Belconnen Community Council, the Gungahlin Community Council, the Weston Creek Community Council, the Tuggeranong Community Council and the North Canberra Community Council. That is not to include the "Meet the Minister" sessions that all of the Ministers have on a monthly basis, where we get out and actually speak to the community about their particular concerns.

We also, on coming to government, offered all of those on the crossbenches an opportunity to have Friday morning briefings on whatever they wanted to, directly with public servants. Those members who have been in the Assembly for a while will remember that under the previous Government we were not allowed to speak to public servants. Every request for information for anything had to go through a Minister and was regularly turned down. We have said right from the beginning that we do not mind whom you speak to, because there is simply nothing to hide. In fact, if you would like us to organise Friday morning briefings, just let us know during the week what you would like to talk about and whom you would like to talk to and we will do it.

Mr Connolly: So arrange it through a Minister and you can have the briefing, just like us.

MRS CARNELL: No; we are very happy for briefings to happen directly, and they do all the time. Those things show an open government, a consultative government. It was interesting to me, though, that those Friday morning meetings did not continue for terribly long. That surprises me no end because I would have assumed that there was always something that those on the crossbenches would like to talk about. However, I must admit that Mr Osborne and Mr Moore do get quite regular briefings in a number of areas, as do the Greens. We believe that it is important to have public servants able to speak directly to any member of this Assembly, and to my knowledge that has never ever been refused.

What we are talking about here is a situation where this Assembly is saying that they want all care but absolutely no responsibility. At the end of the day, it is the responsibility of the Executive, this Government, to make the budget come in on track. It is our responsibility to look after our departments. If things go wrong, if budgets blow, it is our responsibility. That is the basis of Westminster government. But this Assembly is saying, "Yes, you can have all the responsibility, it can be your fault; you can live or die on it, both in this Assembly and at elections. But we are going to say to you that this is what we want you to do, and then you can wear it". That simply is not the way it works, and Ms Follett knows that that is not the way it works.

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