Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 2 December 2020) . . Page.. 64 ..
7. Health and Community Wellbeing
Health and Social Connection
• Health and health system
• Justice Health
• Mental Health
• Homelessness and housing services
• Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
• Community Services
I will speak briefly to the motion. I first want to thank my colleague and friend the government whip, Ms Orr, who has worked tirelessly to achieve a consensus on most of this motion. The motion proposes an entirely new set of committees, many with new remits.
Ms Orr should be proud that she has achieved this reform with the support of all government and opposition MLAs. While it is a procedural motion to establish an important part of the function of this place, the motion also contains a new precedent. If agreed, all bills for the first time will be referred to the standing committee. The committee will then have to decide whether to conduct an inquiry.
The change arises from the work in the previous Assembly and it builds on the government’s work on transparency and accountability. In taking this step forward, we are also balancing the need for timely consideration of bills.
The referral and inquiry process is intended to scrutinise the bill and to provide timely advice back to the Assembly. Of course, whether an inquiry on the bill occurs is ultimately a decision for the standing committee.
Providing a two-month time frame achieves this balance. Committees can seek extension on reporting time frames. Having been here for a few Assemblies, I note that this occurs frequently. The two-month window also makes clear that the committee referral should not be used to filibuster the legislative process.
I encourage all members to support the motion before us as it has been presented.
MR HANSON (Murrumbidgee) (11.47): Certainly we will be supporting the motion, but I will be moving an amendment that has been circulated. On the broader aspects of the committees, we note the changes that have been made, and I guess it will play out to see whether that balance is right. I foreshadow that certainly in the last Assembly there was some rejigging as we proceeded between a couple of committees, as you will recall, Mr Assistant Speaker, with the EDT committee responsibilities and where they sat. I foreshadow that, as we move forward, if there is that necessity then we should not be inflexible and should allow that to occur.
My understanding is that there is a desire from the government to step away from select committees. That may cause issues as we proceed in terms of the amount of work that the standing committees have to do. If we are rigidly going to oppose select committees, that may in part limit the work and the scope of inquiries that standing