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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 March 2010) . . Page.. 1249 ..

In conclusion, the suggestion that questioning was denied in relation to this matter is actually false. Read the Hansard. The Hansard makes it clear that the Treasurer actually answered the question when it comes to the payment of invoices. She answered the question, Mr Speaker. You made the point that you could ask the question about the administration of those matters but you could not ask generally about the parliamentary Greens’ agreement because it is not an agreement between the government and the ACT Greens. It is an entirely appropriate and correct ruling and the Liberal Party clearly lack the nous to understand that important distinction.

MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (2.24): I will be speaking to the matter which has been raised and supporting the ruling which the Speaker has made.

Mr Hanson: Where’s the leader?

Mr Coe: We have a third contestant.

MR SPEAKER: Order, members! I expect to hear Ms Bresnan.

MS BRESNAN: Thank you, Mr Speaker. What has been discussed here, and what is being defended through the ruling, is that this document itself is between two political parties and, as has already been pointed out, there is confusion on the part of the Liberal Party on what is political agreement and what are the actions of the minister in discharging their actions as a minister.

There is a distinction between the agreement and ministerial conduct. Mr Smyth has completely blurred the lines of his argument. His argument seemed to go all over the place on this point, at one point talking about ministerial responsibilities and then at another point talking about the agreement. Again, I think that, in relation to what Mr Corbell has said, he has completely blurred the lines there and showed a distinct lack of understanding about what is actually in place with the agreement.

As has already been argued, the minister is not responsible for the agreement. She is not the minister responsible for the agreement. That is never set out anywhere. The questions which we ask here in this place—not just from the Liberal Party but our questions also as crossbenchers—are about ministerial actions and enacting those responsibilities as a minister. That is what is being upheld in this ruling.

This is in relation to the scrutiny of items and items that are in the budget. Any items have to go through the budget process and there is the scrutiny of the budget through the estimates process. To make this suggestion that there is no scrutiny is absolute nonsense, frankly. I believe that, as we have already said, there is a distinction between what is an agreement between two political parties and what are the actions of a minister. That is clearly what is stated through the ruling.

The Liberal Party’s arguments here, as has been shown in this place before, lack any understanding and are, frankly, lazy. And, as we said, the question was answered. The question which was put to the minister was answered. The substance of it was answered. So what we are actually talking about here are again actions which are—as always with the Liberal Party, it seems—about scoring political points and not about what is the substance of issues.

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