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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (17 August) . . Page.. 2372..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

The simple proposition is that we need greater capacity to have regard for the ability to find people willing to take appointment as chairperson of the commission. The criteria the government has outlined in its bill include a member of the legal profession with at least five years experience who has held a senior position, or a former chief executive of a territory instrumentality. We already provide the ability to have been chief executive of a commonwealth instrumentality, so why not a territory instrumentality.

The criteria also include a former statutory office holder. We have a range of office holders who have some political background but have demonstrated quite capably their ability to exercise impartiality and independence. For example, a judge of the Supreme Court is a former Labor member of this place. No-one questions his impartiality or independence in exercising his judicial functions appropriately.

A former Labor member of this place has held independent positions as the human rights commissioner. No-one has questioned her capacity to exercise her powers independently and impartially, even when it comes to making judgments against an executive, which is a Labor executive at this time.

I see no reason why someone who has held a senior position in academia should not be eligible to undertake the role of the chairperson. People in academia have significant theoretical and often practical experience of the operation of electoral systems. There is no reason why people of that character should not be eligible for appointment. At the moment they are excluded.

In a city such as Canberra in the ACT, where the number of senior people available for such appointments is limited for a range of reasons, to rule out the whole realm of academia is, I think, extreme. Those are the propositions that I think are reasonable. I understand that members are raising the issue of whether or not someone has been a member of a political party at any time.

I think Dr Foskey's proposition has a time limit on it. Mr Stefaniak has indicated that, if they have ever been a member of a political party, even for one day when they were 18, that rules them out. I think these are issues that warrant further discussion. I indicate to members that we agree to this bill in principle today but we will adjourn it to allow some further discussion to occur.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Detail stage

Clauses 1 to 3, by leave, taken together.

Debate (on motion by Mr Stefaniak ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Seminar on parliamentary practice and procedure, Westminster

Statement by minister

MR CORBELL (Molonglo-Attorney-General, Minister for Police and emergency services and Minister for Planning) (17.22): I seek leave to make a brief statement.

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