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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 2 December 2020 2020) . . Page.. 66 ..

the following week it is not for two weeks. You sit at that point and have to make a decision about whether you are going to inquire into this.

If the answer is: yes, terms of reference have to be developed. You then have to put out a notice to the community that you are going to conduct an inquiry. You seek submissions, and you have to allow a reasonable period for people to consider that legislation to develop a submission to provide to the inquiry. The inquiry gets those submissions and it then needs time to consider those submissions. It then will potentially conduct public hearings, and that process takes a while. There is then a period for the report to be written, the report to be considered and then tabled.

That is impossible in two months. I was the chair of the EDT, and Mr Pettersson and Ms Orr were on that committee, when it conducted an inquiry into drones. We were told to do that within a real quick turnaround. Trying to do an inquiry in that time frame really limits the ability of the committee to do anything other than something cursory. If we are genuine about wanting to have a look at these bills and inquire into them and do something consistent with New Zealand and Queensland that adds value, then the committee has to have time to do its job.

The amendment I will move in a minute is about being consistent with what the tripartisan inquiry said—up to six months—and let’s roll with that. I understand that the government may be concerned that this might be used as a tactic to delay and that they have got to get on with their business. I understand that, and that is why the amendment provides for each committee to write back within 14 days to say whether they are doing an inquiry or not.

I note the balance of power on every committee is with the government. The coalition government has the balance of power on every committee, so it would be impossible for the opposition to try and use this as any sort of political tactic to delay. I am not sure why we would want to, but that provision is there.

I also note that the government could, at any time, if a bill is particularly urgent, seek to suspend standing orders and move that a particular bill is not going to committee. If it was the will of the Assembly in that circumstance, that would be entirely reasonable, and it would not go to committee.

We support this tri-party initiative. It is a good one and t will improve this place. It gives the committees real value, but you cannot do it in a way that makes it impossible for the committees to actually do that. It then becomes worthless. It becomes a pointless amendment and the committees will either not bother doing an inquiry because there is not enough time or the inquiry will be cursory at best.

Having said that, I seek your support. Let’s be consistent. If people on the admin and procedures committee were bothered to do all this work and come up with a recommendation, let’s be consistent with that. In light of that, I move:

paragraph 5, omit “two” substitute “six”.

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