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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 25 March 2010) . . Page.. 1552 ..

That the Assembly takes note of the paper

I am pleased to present the government’s response to the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure report on the Latimer House principles inquiry.

At their meeting in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in November 2002, commonwealth law ministers gave consideration to a set of guidelines on good practice governing relations between the executive, parliament and the judiciary. These guidelines were drawn up at a conference held in the United Kingdom at Latimer House.

At the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Nigeria in 2003, the heads of government accepted the recommendations and endorsed the Latimer House principles. The Latimer House principles comprise a framework of concepts and guidelines that seek to define the relationship between the three branches of government. In doing so, the principles promote good governance, respect for human rights, and the rule of law.

In October 2008, the parliamentary agreement between the ALP and the Greens instituted a range of new undertakings designed to ensure higher standards of accountability, transparency and responsibility in the conduct of all public business. Now, in March 2010, most of these have been implemented.

One of these measures was to endorse the Latimer House principles. The Assembly adopted the principles in December 2008 through a continuing resolution and instructed the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure to report on appropriate mechanisms to coordinate their implementation. The government made a submission to that inquiry, welcoming the formal recognition of the fundamental principles of democracy and emphasising our commitment to transparency and integrity in government, which the Latimer House principles seek to enshrine.

Today I reiterate that obligation. The government remains committed to the highest standards of honesty, accountability and probity in its actions. I welcome the opportunity to continue the conversation in this chamber about the importance of the checks and balances in our system of government.

As I have said on previous occasions, the government recognises and values the important role played by the legislature in scrutinising the actions of the executive, and the proper role played by members in pursuing lines of questioning with responsible ministers.

Having adopted the Latimer House principles, it is crucial that we all explicitly recognise and respect the inherent freedoms and powers, as well as checks and balances, that comprise our system of government. In this regard, the government would stress the importance of the statement in the Latimer House principles that each branch of government is the guarantor in their respective spheres of fundamental principles of democratic society based on the rule of law.

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