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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 16 March 2010) . . Page.. 821 ..


that the complaints were completely about fair trading issues. That is not the case. Mr Corbell has misled this place, and it is up to this Assembly to censure him for that mislead.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (10.27): One of the Greens’ key aims for this Assembly is to promote accountability and to improve the integrity, sometimes known as the fourth arm, of government. To this end, we have instituted a range of measures designed to build on the traditional accountability mechanisms to improve our democracy.

Opposition members interjecting—

MR RATTENBURY: It only took me four lines for you guys to start interjecting. These have included amendments to the Assembly’s standing orders, the adoption of the Latimer House principles and the new process for resolving disputes over Assembly calls for documents.

Whilst the fringes remain hazy, the core doctrine of ministerial responsibility in Westminster government is fairly well established. Senior lecturer in law David Kinley outlines in the University of New South Wales Law Journal the longstanding view that “the executive’s primary responsibility in its prosecution of government is owed to parliament”.

Chief Justice Spigelman said in a speech to the World Jurist Association Congress in 2005:

In the case of personal integrity the focus of attention is on the conduct required of occupants of public office in terms of characteristics such as honesty, absence of corruption, ethical conducts and compliance with proper practice.

This brief expression captures the standard against which conduct must be measured. It is our job as the legislature to ensure accountability of the executive and particularly those who have been given the responsibility of being ministers of the government. This is a task which the Greens have taken on from the moment we first entered the chamber and it is something we will pursue for the full length of our terms.

The issues presented by this motion are: did the minister act honestly when he responded to questions by members of the Assembly? And if not, did the minister honestly and openly correct any misunderstandings at the first available opportunity?

On 11 February, in the wake of revelations about the federal government’s problems with the home insulation program, the Attorney-General answered a series of questions here in the Assembly. The debate that was raging in the media at that time was about the dangerous nature of some ceiling insulation work that had been undertaken around the country and that had led to the tragic deaths of four installers. The federal government had, on 9 February, banned the installation of foil insulation as part of the home insulation program and the public were, understandably, quite disturbed about the possibility that there were more live ceilings and more risks of roof fires.


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