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In other words, it opens up the process for other points of view and other ideas and it builds them into the process. It says to the community at large that the responsibility we have to make legislation is one that is inclusive, one that is open to suggestion and modification; it is not one that simply is there to serve one particular group that happens to be in power at the time. I suppose that it is prevention rather than cure that we are talking about in building these processes in at the very beginning and allowing all who are concerned in passing legislation and accepting regulations to know just who was involved.
Legislation similar to this motion in its provisions is already in place, as members may well know, in New South Wales and Victoria. That legislation mostly refers to subordinate legislation rather than direct legislation. The Act in New South Wales was passed in 1989 and that in Victoria in 1994. We are not talking about a radical or new move; we are talking about something that is practised, and we are talking about something that has been tested. I am arguing that a similar sort of statement be included in all legislation rather than just in subordinate legislation. I think the spirit of it has been embraced already, but this would make the process tidier. Many parliaments do not bother with this. The argument is that the debate on ordinary legislation is usually so thorough that it provides a process for exposing who was and who was not talked to and what the impact of the legislation would be. However, with subordinate legislation, this is not the case. Often regulations and subordinate legislation can slip through without any notion of who was talked to. Therefore, they lend themselves to the sorts of arrangements that have been described in this report.
This is something that I have heard various members of the Assembly address in past years. People have made an open commitment in many a forum to the importance of including the community within our processes. In many cases, when legislation has been presented by private members and by us people have talked about whom they have talked to and the groups they have included in consultations.
I do not think that I am offering anything radical. What I am doing is tidying up our processes and offering an opportunity to extend them to subordinate legislation so that, before we begin debate or before we allow an instrument to go through without disallowance, we have some better idea, from information provided in a formal way, of just what went into the construction of the legislation; or, if there was no consultation, which in some cases is quite legitimate, we know that and can say, “Fair enough. That was quite clear. It was not needed”. If we had that information we would not have to scout around our various contacts so that we can outmatch each other as to who spoke to whom and when or get an idea of where the debate on the issues is taking place and what led to the legislation being put on the table.
This motion is a way of saying collectively to the community, “Not only do we care about what you say, not only do we involve you as local people in the legislation that we put up, but we are willing to put information up front in any of the legislation that we debate and allow or disallow in our chamber. We do that in a way that makes it absolutely transparent how these things came about”. I commend the motion to the Assembly.