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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 28 October 2010) . . Page.. 5264 ..

government have chosen to bring this debate on today so we will not be supporting it. We are happy to sit down with the government. If they are willing to actually sit down in good faith and deal with this, we are willing to do that. I think it could be resolved in the next sitting of the Assembly if there is the goodwill on the other side. For those reasons, we will not be supporting the motion today.

MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (11.41): I thank the Acting Chief Minister for bringing this matter back to the Assembly. Obviously, we are not going to resolve it. We had hoped to resolve it today.

We have already had several exemptions made to the act. As I mentioned earlier, the scrutiny of bills committee has raised issues about this unsatisfactory ongoing issue. Clearly, it is a matter we do need to resolve.

Let us be absolutely clear about what is supposed to happen here. The legislation provides in section 12 that the minister must appoint a person to be the campaign advertising reviewer. The section then sets out the criteria for appointment and requires that the minister must not appoint the person unless two-thirds of the Legislative Assembly approves the appointment. In no way whatsoever is there any role for any person other than the minister to select the person to be appointed. The only role for the Assembly is to say that it does or does not agree with the person being nominated.

There is no explanatory statement to guide us in the application of the provision. However, I think it would be fair to say that the plain and ordinary meaning and the evident intention from the text of the act is that the Assembly is intended to provide a check on the appointment to guarantee that there is sufficient consensus that the person appointed to the job is suitable and therefore the community can have confidence in the appointee being able to acquit the task well.

The test to be applied is not that they are or are not the best candidate possible. It is solely whether the Assembly believes that they are a suitable person for appointment to the position. In considering suitability, it is plain that the criteria to be applied by members in their determination of suitability will extend beyond what is identified as the minimum requirement set out in the act.

As I said in my speech last time this motion came before the Assembly and we debated this issue, the most pressing and obvious concern is that of bias. I spoke about bias and the tests of bias. The act addresses the widely held—and, I would add, in my view very valid—concern at the capacity to use public money for an inappropriate political end. It is absolutely necessary that the person appointed to the role cannot reasonably be said to have or be perceived to have a political bias that would interfere with their ability to apply the law as intended by the Assembly.

As I said, in my last speech I went to great lengths in evaluating this bias, putting forward the tests and so forth. It cannot be said that either of the proposed candidates—Derek Volker as the reviewer and the alternate Crispin Hull—can be said to have either actual or apprehended bias. As members of this place we have an obligation to explain why we adopt the positions we do and in this case to explain

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