Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 3144 ..
MS CARNELL (continuing):
It is not looking at government budgets, government directions or government anything else; it is looking at some very definite issues. Mr Humphries, I am sure you would agree, will do this very adequately. He is going to have trouble with time but he has more time than somebody on eight committees. It will mean that the input into the committee is very good. We would be confident of that. I cannot understand why anybody in this place would have a problem with somebody who is very capable of going onto a committee.
While we have the number of people we have in this Assembly and while we have five ministries, this will not be the first time that this happens. As Professor Pettit made very clear, there are not enough people for a government with six to eight members - that is what we will always have - five of them Ministers and potentially one a Speaker, to have a backbench big enough to be represented on all committees at all times. It will mean that from time to time others will have to represent the Government. Professor Pettit picked up that problem. It is becoming fairly obvious. There is already one Assembly committee that the Government is not represented on. It is not represented at all on the Select Committee on Gambling because we simply do not have the people to do it.
The committee we are debating now is a very important committee, as is the Select Committee on Gambling, and it is essential that there be government representation. That representation, we decided, should be Mr Humphries because we did not think you would be too keen on me as the Minister, and I fully agree that the Minister being on a committee could cause some degree of, I suppose, angst from some members. I am sure that if I was on the committee I would represent the Government's interests well, but I can understand that that would cause some discomfort for members. Mr Humphries is not the Minister. He is very capable of getting on top of the documentation and the data and putting the Government's position.
I have no idea why members are so worried about this particular scenario and why some of them believe that somehow this will cause some fundamental problem. All I can imagine is that those members are hopeful that the Government will not have representation or that they expect Mr Hird to go on nine or 10 committees so that his capacity to read the document - - -
Mr Hargreaves: What about Mr Cornwell?
MS CARNELL: That is what I am talking about. For the life of me, I do not understand why this is a problem. If this is an important committee, then what we want is the best input that we can possibly have. The Government believes that Mr Humphries will represent the Government's interests well. No-one has argued against that point. If we want a committee that will do the best job possible, why on earth would you argue with Mr Humphries being the government representative? Governments in the future will have the same problem as we do - one backbencher and an enormous number of committees. When there is a special committee like this one with a short timeframe, then I think the Government must be allowed to have a representative who will do the job well. This is not something that would happen regularly, but in this particular case members seem to want to have another committee that will run over the Christmas period. Mr Humphries is the government representative we have nominated.