Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 1 Hansard (28 April) . . Page.. 51 ..
MR MOORE (continuing):
Effectively, we will have five standing committees on public accounts and five standing committees on the scrutiny of Bills. We are asking each of the committees to look at those matters. Under the motion, the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety will also perform the duties of a Scrutiny of Bills Committee and the Standing Committee for the Chief Minister's Portfolio will perform the duties of a Public Accounts Committee. It seems to me, Mr Speaker, that there is an argument to be put - and Mr Berry has put it - on splitting planning and the environment and having a separate committee for each. I understand the sense of that. The rest of what Mr Berry has put is clearly opposition for opposition's sake.
The motions put by Mr Osborne give effect to an idea that he put many months ago, an idea that he tested by putting it to the Pettit inquiry, which found that this is the method that should be used. Mr Berry's stand is opposition for opposition's sake. I would say to Mr Stanhope and to Mr Quinlan that a very interesting test of their leadership will be whether they allow Wayne Berry to continue in the same way as he proceeded prior to the last election when he was Leader of the Opposition or whether they will require him to take the same sort of approach that Mr Stanhope genuinely advocated this morning when he spoke about not opposing for opposition's sake and about having proper discussions.
MS TUCKER (12.11): There are a number of concerns about changing the status and management of the Public Accounts Committee and the Scrutiny of Bills Committee. I do not know that this is the appropriate time to go into full detail, but I would like to outline a couple of reasons why I think we do need to have this discussion. I do not agree with Mr Moore that opposing this proposal of Mr Osborne's is opposition for opposition's sake. I did not have a lot of knowledge about the role of the Scrutiny of Bills Committee or the Public Accounts Committee, not having been on either; but when I saw the proposal that they should no longer be here I asked various people who have expertise in the area to give me references so that I could read up on this subject.
Having read up on the subject, I believe that this is an issue of concern. I will be supporting Mr Berry's amendments to Mr Osborne's motions this morning, although I will be seeking later to divide the question, because I want to separate the planning and environment issue from the question of establishing a Scrutiny of Bills Committee and a Public Accounts Committee. I will support Mr Berry's amendment to Mr Osborne's motion to establish a Public Accounts Committee and a Scrutiny of Bills Committee and I foreshadow that, once the select committee is set up to look at the Pettit report, I will be asking that those questions be looked at then in the context of the Pettit report.
Just briefly, the concerns about merging the Public Accounts Committee and the Scrutiny of Bills Committee with the existing committees are serious. These are important issues. The history of the Scrutiny of Bills Committee has been that you do not merge the political debate on the merit of particular legislation or subordinate legislation with the discussion of the technicalities of it. It looks at such fundamental issues as appeal rights, conferral of discretionary powers and the infringement of civil liberties. I absolutely agree with the example Mr Berry put about move-on powers, and I am appalled that people laughed at that concern, because if you actually want to see checks and balances in a unicameral system through the presence of a separate Scrutiny of Bills Committee, something such as move-on powers obviously would be of interest.