Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (5 December) . . Page.. 2620 ..
MS FOLLETT (Leader of the Opposition) (11.21), in reply: I would like to commence my response by taking up some of the points that Mr Kaine made in presenting his dissenting report. I said at the start that Mr Kaine has every right to make a dissenting report, and indeed he has done so, but not with any great conviction. The first point I want to make is that the report, as presented to the Assembly, was drafted in its entirety by our committee secretary, Bill Symington. Mr Speaker, I drafted one small section, and that was the recommendations - less than half a page of that report. In fact, Mr Symington redrafted those for me. Mr Symington, I believe, is the best committee secretary this Assembly has ever seen, and is ever likely to see. He is a man of the highest degree of competence, integrity and conscientiousness. On this occasion I think he performed up to his usual standard. The report that he drafted was, in my view, objective, comprehensive and based on the whole body of evidence that the committee had before it.
Mr Speaker, in looking at the body of evidence that the committee had before it, those members who performed their task conscientiously went well beyond the documents presented by the Government. In fact, I read a range of public sector reform reports from the Commonwealth, from the Senate and from other States. I read widely and, I believe, appropriately. I also read in great detail the Government's briefing material which they provided before they presented the legislation. In fact, I read that closely enough to know, as Mrs Carnell did not, that they changed their mind on one aspect between that initial briefing and the presentation of the legislation. I believe that the majority of members, but apparently not Mr Kaine, did look very widely for information and for advice on this matter. I think that Mr Kaine, in his comments, has done the rest of his committee colleagues less than justice.
In taking on this inquiry the committee did, in fact, invite a wide range of organisations and individuals to make submissions. As I said in my presentation speech, I very much regret that many of those organisations and individuals were not able to comply with our timetable. That timetable was set by the Government, not by the committee. In fact, we asked the universities, a range of public administration experts, the Institute of Public Administration and so on for comments. Very few of them were able to comply with the deadline imposed by the Government. It is extraordinary that the Government now finds that a criticism. I find it extraordinary.
Mr Speaker, Mr Kaine also said that, as the committee chair, I had not proposed any amendments. I want to make it clear that I will be doing so when we come to debate the Bill. I certainly will be proposing amendments that are in line with the majority report of the Public Accounts Committee. He also said that the report represented only my personal views. That is simply not true. I think Mr Kaine has denigrated our committee colleague, Ms Horodny, in her task of looking at this piece of legislation. It is true that Ms Horodny missed one meeting. There is no doubt in my mind that she was well briefed, as was I; that she read the transcript of the public hearings; and that she considered the issue as widely as any of us did. So I find Mr Kaine's comments quite churlish. I think Mr Kaine might have been wise had he taken advantage of the Government's early offer of a full briefing on the proposed legislation. I certainly did, and I know that the Greens did as well. It seems that Mr Kaine did not. I think he would have understood better what was in this legislation had he taken that briefing.