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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (17 February) . . Page.. 264 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

What are we doing here? Mr Quinlan is trying to solve a problem that does not appear to exist, at the same time creating a situation that stakeholders tell us will cause a problem. On that basis, the Assembly should think very hard about this Bill. The Government will be opposing it. I have indicated that I will move the amendment circulated during this debate. Let us make sure that we do not in any way undermine our Territory owned corporations by what could be a pretty unnecessary piece of legislation.

MR KAINE (5.31): I listened carefully to what the Chief Minister had to say on this matter, and I must say that her opposition to this proposal is quite astonishing. The fact is that most of the appointments that the Government makes at the moment are subject to scrutiny by committees of this Assembly. The Chief Minister's argument seems to be that because the Assembly, in her experience, has not rejected anybody therefore the process is unnecessary. I do not see that at all. I think it is an essential filtering process. It is just conceivable that one of these days the Chief Minister or another Minister will put forward for appointment to a board the name of someone some member of this place knows has a flaw.

What is proposed is a filter. It is nothing more than that. If any existing director or officer in a body is suggesting that somehow there is something wrong with his or her proposed appointment being scrutinised by this place, I would have to ask what the basis of the objection is. I have heard what the Chief Minister said, but it was totally unconvincing. I think it is appropriate that appointments being made by this Government be referred to a committee of the Assembly. I see nothing wrong with that at all.

The Chief Minister suggests that we will end up with second-raters on all our boards and statutory authorities. Is there any evidence that that has occurred with the boards and authorities for which appointees are scrutinised now? I submit not. I think that the Chief Minister's argument fails dismally.

Mr Quinlan's proposal is eminently sensible. It is eminently acceptable. Proposed appointments would be reviewed in a confidential way. It would not be done publicly. There would be no public statement, no public announcement. The request from a Minister would be in confidence and the response from the committee would be in confidence. If anybody seriously took exception to that process, you would have to ask what they are concerned about. Are they concerned that somebody will take exception for valid reason and that that might become public? I do not know how it would become public. As I have said, it would be done confidentially. I see no basis whatsoever for any such appointee not being reviewed by the Assembly, which is simply a tacit acknowledgment that it is an open process.

What is the alternative? The alternative is that the Government can appoint whomsoever they see fit. Is the Government always so infallible that what they do ought not to be subject to scrutiny? I do not believe that that is the case. We are all fallible. I think that this very informal and confidential review process is a useful one. It is a valuable one and I would go so far as to say that it is an essential one.

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