Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 March 2010) . . Page.. 1246 ..
Clearly that is not applicable in this case. But it may be, because if something happens in this place as a result of agreement then clearly it is pending subject to the agreement.
The third part of 114 goes on to:
… any matter of administration for which that Minister is responsible.
The Treasurer is responsible for the disbursement of funds through the government. She brings in the appropriation bill that authorises ministers to spend their appropriations. Any time we ask about the payment of an account that is paid for out of government funds, it is an appropriate question. And, if the context of the question says that it is a consequence of the Greens-Labor agreement that put the Chief Minister into the Chief Minister’s seat, that put those opposite into the government benches, then it is entirely appropriate. It is an agreement, a signed parliamentary agreement, tabled in this place, spoken to by both leaders. It is held up as how this Assembly will be guided. And, if we cannot ask, under the guidance of that document, how we are progressing, then this is not a democracy and you are not independent and you are doing us a disservice. The whole point of administration for which the minister is responsible is to go to the heart of ministerial responsibility—and anybody who stands in our way of asking about ministerial responsibility is not serving the people of the ACT.
You say in your decision that it is clearly a party matter. But it is not clearly a party matter when it installs and maintains a government. It is clearly not a party matter when it involves the use of taxpayers’ dollars. It is clearly not a party matter when public servants are used to cost and monitor that agreement. And it is clearly not a party matter when public resources are used; for instance, even meeting rooms where these meetings are held that are funded through the public dollar. It is clearly not a party matter.
On all of those grounds, Mr Speaker, I would suggest that you need to go back to your ruling; that you need to look at it again in the context of what I have said and clearly, based on your last words to Mr Doszpot, where you said “based on previous practice”. Previous practice in this place has been to allow those questions. I quoted you two; I am sure I could go and find more. We used to allow those questions.
So you have to answer the question, Mr Speaker: what changed? And the answer is that nothing has changed. Nothing at all has changed. These are reasonable questions. We expect reasonable answers. The public of the ACT deserve to hear those answers. To say that we cannot ask questions about the agreement that puts the government in place, that keeps the government there, that will be the basis of the Greens’ campaign at the next election and is funded through the public purse, is an absolute nonsense. It is a disgrace. It is a betrayal of the Westminster system, it is a betrayal of democracy and it is a betrayal of free speech.
Mr Speaker, I moved dissent today because what you have determined is simply wrong. It is wrong on past practice. It is wrong on notion of ministerial responsibility. It is wrong on your understanding of what an arrangement is. And it is wrong because