Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 1 Hansard (28 April) . . Page.. 92 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
and liberties; that it does not make rights and liberties dependent on insufficiently defined administrative powers - all those things that we guard against in ensuring that we do not trespass on the rights of citizens in our legislation. It seems to me to be an incredibly flippant response to the weighty matters that scrutiny of Bills committees traditionally consider to actually say that we can disperse that function amongst all our policy committees, and that if there is a civil rights issue or a personal rights issue we can reduce that to policy committees ensuring that "the legislation is satisfactory in more formal respects as well".
It seems to me that there is some confusion generated by the nature of the discussion and the motion in itself. The motion, as proposed, places the scrutiny of Bills function within the Justice and Community Safety Committee and the public accounts function within the Chief Minister's Portfolio Committee. I think the stratagem proposed by Pettit was that each of the policy committees would accept responsibility for the scrutiny of Bills that were relevant to it, as determined by the Speaker, which in itself I think is probably a novel idea. The Speaker will determine which legislation gets referred to which committee. That was the basic Pettit proposal, but we have modified that. In this motion we have actually undone the Pettit recommendation. So, not only are we pre-empting Pettit; we are purporting, I think, to make a decision which, with some justification, is coming out of the Pettit report. In fact, that is not what we are proposing. This is a new model. This, in effect, is actually to repose in the Chief Minister's Portfolio Committee and the Justice and Community Safety Committee the functions of those two committees. So I presume that what we are doing here is removing from those other three committees any responsibility for scrutiny of Bills type of issues or public accounts type of issues. This is a hybrid. What we have here is a hybrid of the Pettit proposal.
To that extent I support the sentiment expressed by Ms Tucker: That it seems that there is nothing to be lost in our creating these committees now and allowing the select committee, which I think has broad, if not unanimous, Assembly support, to do its work - to do some investigation, to do some detailed work on what the implications are of doing away with these committees. The fact that we have had such a vigorous debate with so many members participating, the fact that so many members have been inclined to join in this debate and express concerns about this proposal, indicates that it deserves to be treated seriously. We should not lightly throw away a committee structure that has served this Assembly well, and has served other parliaments extremely well, without knowing what we do. Why not wait until the select committee does a proper investigation of this report? Why not wait until August? Why not have some rigour brought to the process?
MR KAINE (4.27): Mr Speaker, I have to say at the beginning that I have no particular objection to the outline of committees as proposed by Mr Osborne in his motion. I had noted that he was attributing to a particular committee the former functions of the Public Accounts Committee in particular. That did not give me cause for great concern until Mr Moore attempted to clarify the issue earlier when he said that we were in a better position now than we were before because we actually have five committees reviewing