Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 3059 ..
MR KAINE (continuing):
Speaker could make a judgment on that except by looking to the terms of reference of the two committees. If he does that he would have to concede that the Chief Minister's Portfolio Committee in its role as the public accounts committee has a perfect right to take on the inquiry that it has decided to take on. Mr Hird can feel that his nose is out of joint, but all I can say is: Tough luck.
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (11.56): Mr Speaker, I rise to move an amendment to the motion Mr Hird has put on the table. Mr Hird has perhaps overly charitably suggested that the matter ought to be sent somewhere else to be thought about. I think, in fact, that that is not appropriate. I think that we should determine this matter today on the floor of the Assembly and that we should ensure that this reference goes rather to the Standing Committee on Urban Services.
Let me address some of the arguments that have been put in this debate. The argument has been put that there are very good reasons why aspects of the capital works program are related. I will not move my amendment just yet, Mr Speaker. I will speak to the motion and move my amendment at the end of speaking to the motion. Mr Speaker, there are very good reasons, we are told, why the work of the Chief Minister's Portfolio Committee covers potentially aspects of the capital works program. There may be a very good point in that. But, Mr Speaker, we need to bear in mind that every committee of the Assembly has considerable potential to overlap with the work of other committees. Every single committee of this Assembly could be said to have an area where its work overlaps that of another committee.
For example, what would stop the Chief Minister's Portfolio Committee, with its very wide purview of scrutiny over matters to do with finance, from inquiring into any other element of an inquiry by another committee that touched on finance? It would be quite possible for that to occur in every case. What would happen, for example, if the Chief Minister's Portfolio Committee decided to inquire into the financial basis for the gaming industry in the ACT? They would have every right to do so, but that would intrude on the inquiry of Mr Kaine's committee into gaming. It is perfectly within the purview of the Chief Minister's Portfolio Committee for that to happen.
Mr Speaker, there is a story in the Bible about how two women come before Solomon arguing about a baby and the proverbial wisdom of Solomon is applied by suggesting that the baby should be cut in half. This is just such wisdom being applied in the house today. We have two committees wanting to look at the capital works program, so the Solomonic decision is to cut it in half, with half going to one committee and half going to another committee. As in the story in the Bible, Mr Speaker, it is a silly proposal. It makes no sense. It is an illustration of why you should not have an inquiry split in this way.
Mr Quinlan justifies the inquiry by saying that this is just about us understanding the capital works budget. Mr Speaker, if committees of the Assembly wish to educate themselves about particular aspects of the ACT's fiscus, its legislative program or some other matter, that is perfectly within its entitlement, but not as an inquiry where it will report, presumably, to the Assembly on its findings and make, as it were,