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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 1 Hansard (28 April) . . Page.. 94 ..

Mr Stanhope: So you are not following Pettit on this?

MS CARNELL: No, not exactly, I have to say. What we are doing is leaving open an opportunity, as Mr Whitecross said. The Public Accounts Committee, under the Chief Minister's Portfolio guise, would have those responsibilities. Equally, I think that one of the things that the select committee should look at is an opportunity to do exactly what Mr Whitecross said. If people want to have the name "The Chief Minister's Portfolio Committee and Public Accounts Committee", we could just have it in the name and that might make everyone happy. That is the stupid reason. This is a dumb debate. It simply does not make any sense whatsoever.

Mr Speaker, I think it is appropriate for the committees that will be set up, based upon departmental structures, to look, if they choose to, at some of the financial statements that come out, not just because it is their role to. I could imagine situations. What is a good example? We all know at the moment that, say, ACTION buses are tracking significantly under budget in terms of patronage. That might be something that a committee might look at. A committee might look at something that it chooses to look at, Mr Speaker. It might not.

I think that what we are talking about here is a lot of rubbish. Mr Speaker, I cannot believe that members of this place would have chosen to go down a path of setting up a whole range of committees and then in two or three months' time abolishing them and setting up something new based upon the outcome of a select committee. We did look at that when many of us discussed this issue. The reason we chose to go early - to answer the questions of those opposite - was that if committees were going to be set up for two months or three months they would be halfway through inquiries. They would be halfway through public consultations. There would never be a time when you could change the structure, or easily change it, without having a whole lot of information literally being useless. We would have people who were on a particular committee ending up on another one after they had just got up to speed on a particular inquiry. That would be truly stupid.

Mr Quinlan: So the select committee is to be a rubber stamp?

MS CARNELL: No; we are talking about the standing committees. The standing committees would be totally different under a new system.

Mr Quinlan: The select committee on the implementation of Pettit must therefore be assumed to be a rubber stamp.

MS CARNELL: It is fairly obvious that the majority of the Assembly support the new approach. It is patently obvious that that is the case. Mr Speaker, the bottom line here is that what is being proposed is a quite simple change. If those opposite feel comfortable about calling it "The Chief Minister's Portfolio Committee" or "The Chief Minister's Portfolio Committee and Public Accounts Committee", I do not think anyone will have a problem with that. I do not think anyone will have a problem with the scrutiny of Bills being tacked onto the name of the Justice and Community Safety Committee.

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