Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 1 Hansard (28 April) . . Page.. 82 ..
MS CARNELL (continuing):
Mr Speaker, another major task for the working party was to recommend ways of promoting greater community participation in and accessibility to government. In order for this to occur, the working party was asked to advertise widely to seek public submissions and debate on this matter. Mr Speaker, I personally believe that the working party completed this particular task in an exceptional manner. It is obvious from the report of the working party that they consulted extensively and sought the views of a wide range of people within the community. The response from the community was also very good. Forty-two submissions were received by the working party, and I understand that there was quite a lot of interest in the public hearings which were held in March 1998. Professor Pettit was untiring in his devotion to ensuring that the insights of members of this and previous Assemblies were available to the working party, and I think everybody here who wanted to take part was able to do so.
This Government has taken the working party's report very seriously and I hope that the select committee that will be established, hopefully a little bit later today, will do the same in considering the report. This Government has already implemented one of the working party's recommendations through the appointment of Mr Michael Moore, MLA, as Minister for Health and Community Care. The working party's report recommended an increase in the size of the ministry and laid out the terms on which an Assembly member who is not a member of the governing party might serve as a Minister. It is on this basis that Mr Moore has accepted a ministry. The Government was keen to implement this recommendation quickly so that there would not be too much disruption too far into this Government's term of office. I believe that the appointment of Mr Moore as a fifth Minister will significantly improve the efficiency of public administration through the alignment of five Ministers and five departments.
Finally, I would like to thank the members of the working party - Professor Pettit, who chaired the review, Mr Bill Blick and Mr Tim Keady - for their hard work, energy and commitment. To have the report ready for me to table in the Assembly on the first official sitting day was a major and commendable achievement. Mr Speaker, it was a big ask to ask the working party to report at this time; but they did so in order that this Assembly could start, right from the beginning, with the report on the table and, hopefully, a select committee to look at it. I am sure all members will agree that the working party had a challenging task, and I believe that the report provides a way forward in achieving real change.
One of the things that I was most pleased about in this report was the general acceptance of self-government that came forward from the public's submissions, and also the realisation that members of this Assembly do have a huge workload. One of the recommendations, among many, that I hope the select committee will look at very seriously is the proposal urging the Federal Government to have a preamble to the self-government Act spelling out the roles, responsibilities and powers that the ACT Assembly should have.