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The motion relates to the provision of information relating to consultation on all legislation presented to the Assembly. Mr Speaker, the motion is pretty much self-evident. I am really looking forward to the debate and the comment on the motion, because I cannot see how anyone can really oppose it. This is an area that I have been long interested in.
For most legislation presented by those on our side and by those on the other side of the house when in government there has been a clear presentation of who has been consulted and what the process of consultation has been. Particularly on the most contentious of issues, we certainly have seen the groups coming in for consultation when legislation is first presented and then following up when the legislation has been debated and further amended. We have seen clear evidence of that, and we have seen clear evidence of how important it is to the community for legislation to be developed in consultation with them. We have not seen so much evidence of that, though, with delegated and subordinate legislation. In that area quite a lot of decisions that affect a lot of the people of Canberra are made perhaps with some consultation, perhaps not. But we have never had any clear evidence of what that process has entailed, how many people it has involved and what effect changes to subordinate legislation or regulations may have on the people concerned.
I chose to put this motion on the notice paper, it being something that I was quite interested in. Subsequently, I have discovered that I am not alone in this; it is an issue that has been discussed all over Australia. In fact, it is the subject of legislation in other places and has been through a quite extensive process of community consultation, discussion, report and review at the Federal level. The report on the Legislative Instruments Bill 1994 by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs very thoroughly canvassed the issue of consultation, particularly on subordinate legislation; but I see no reason not to extend it to all legislation. They, in their report, came up very much in favour of the approach that I am suggesting. I am asking for this purely by way of motion, which hopefully the house will support, rather than as a legislative or statutory requirement, because I think that, in the spirit of the way that we work in the Assembly, this information can be provided by government without a legislative requirement as to the level of detail. Of course, one could move to legislation if the Assembly so wished.
What I thought would be relevant and important in most of the cases that I am discussing is a list of the organisations and/or individuals who were consulted in relation to the development of regulations, subordinate legislation or legislation itself, and a list of who undertook the consultation. As we know, sometimes consultation occurs at the ministerial level; sometimes it occurs with Ministers’ staff; sometimes it occurs through public meetings and people bringing a good idea to the attention of the Assembly; sometimes it occurs with bureaucrats.
I think it is of interest to the Assembly to know at what level the consultation took place, with whom it took place, who undertook it and why they were tasked to do so. An indication of when the consultation took place also would give us an idea of whether a regulation or new piece of legislation took quite a while in gestation or whether after a brief discussion it became clear to a Minister that it was necessary or very important. This motion of mine allows for freedom. It does not say, “You must consult for three months” or, “You must have consulted in this way”. It simply allows the Assembly to have some measure of what occurred before legislation was put before the Assembly.