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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 13 Hansard (5 December) . . Page.. 4441 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Mr Speaker, let me indicate that the original intention of the Government was to support the motion put forward by Ms McRae to refer this matter to a committee. I have to confess - in large part, because the Government thought and thinks that the substantive motion is a silly motion, because it urges on, obviously, the present Government a level of consultation on issues which in some cases would be very onerous and which in other cases, I think, would be unnecessary, and because it is certainly quite at odds with the standards applying to the former Government, a member of whom is moving this motion - that we were inclined to move it to the Scrutiny of Bills Committee, I suppose, as a way of putting it on ice for a period of time.

But, to be frank, the argument that Mr Moore put - about not really believing that sending matters to committees for the sake of killing them off is an appropriate way of doing things - is, I think, a good point to be made. We have seen in other parliaments, certainly, occasions when matters have been referred to committees as a de facto way of rejecting them. That is not really a course of action that we have taken often in this parliament. Therefore, I think it is better to be up front about our position on it; to indicate, as we feel, that the motion is inappropriate; and not to beat around the bush by sending it to a committee.

MS TUCKER (11.49): Mr Speaker, the motion about consultation on legislation has been on the notice paper for some time. I think it is appropriate for the Scrutiny of Bills Committee to examine the issue in more detail and advise the Assembly on the usefulness and viability of the original motion. What we are debating is the level of input the community can have into the formation of legislation and disallowable instruments. It is about the accountability and representativeness of the Government and formalising consultation procedures throughout the bureaucracy. At the moment, Bills are presented with an explanatory memorandum, which includes the financial impacts of the Bill in question, but no other impacts.

This is obviously something the Greens would like to address at some stage. We are advocates for giving equal weight to social and environmental indicators in policy formation to that given to economic or financial indicators. There are obviously a number of issues that need to be looked at; but I would also like to take this opportunity to remind members that the Social Policy Committee has produced a discussion paper on community consultation on social policy issues and is working on putting together a report. So, it would be appropriate for the two committees to consider collaboration on these issues, to assist in making our work as efficient as possible.

At the time, I supported the spirit of the motion; but I was feeling uneasy about the practical nature of its application. So, it is a pleasure to support this reference to the Scrutiny of Bills Committee. I hope that they will look at models from elsewhere in the course of their inquiry. It was interesting, when I was with the CPA group at a seminar in Sydney recently, that one of the sessions was on the participation processes that are available in various areas. A man from the New South Wales Law Foundation addressed the delegation from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association group. He spoke of very similar attempts by other parliaments to look at this issue. I do not think it is silly at all. I think it is really important. I have actually asked him to give me copies of work that he is aware of which has occurred already. I have one in front of me now,

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