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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 12 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 3686 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

a matter that fits within a single category or policy area. It seems common sense, if not a necessary administrative change, for the committee structure to not at least be in contradiction of the administrative orders as they now stand.

It is a fairly straightforward change. The changes were prepared by the Clerk's office, not mine, with instructions that they be minimal. The only other change was a change to the education portfolio committee as it was. I discussed that with Ms Tucker and she voiced a clear preference for the committee to be titled Education, Community Services and Recreation.

This arises out of a decision of the Chief Minister's Portfolio Committee. I referred this matter to the Administration and Procedure Committee and I have circulated this to the chairpersons of every other standing committee in the Assembly. I do not want to tread on anybody's toes or rock the boat, but I am trying to ensure that our committee system is not in contradiction with the administrative orders. I do not know what else I could have done. I commend the motion to the Assembly.

MR KAINE (11.24): I am obliged to support this motion because it came out of the Chief Minister's Portfolio Committee. But the need for such an amendment is a symptom of the fact that our existing committee structure, in a very short period, has turned out to be not a permanent arrangement and one which will require constant amendment every time the ministerial arrangements change.

I was not a supporter of the existing committee structure when it was set in place at the time. One of the things that I opposed and still oppose is the fact that we have had to maintain a public accounts committee and a scrutiny of Bills committee by stealth. Those committees in fact do not exist but we have to perpetuate the myth that they do by incorporating them into other committees. It is a matter for serious consideration by the Assembly as to whether the existing committee structure, even as amended by Mr Quinlan, can be perpetuated and maintained over any length of time.

Personally, I would have been happier had this motion rescinded the resolution of 28 April 1998 and reinstated the original committee structure, which worked well for eight years. I am not too sure that the existing committee structure does really cover all of the eventualities, as one would expect a committee structure to do.

I support the motion. It has come out of a committee of which I am a member. I think it is essential that we make these changes. In particular, the so-called Chief Minister's Portfolio Committee at the moment does not even incorporate treasury and budgetary matters, although we incorporate the public accounts committee.

We are perpetuating the myth that the public accounts committee exists and yet, until we make these changes, we, strictly speaking, are not empowered to look into matters that affect the treasury. So we have to make these changes to give the committees some sort of appearance of legitimacy.

The Assembly may well need to examine the broader question of whether the existing committee structure is appropriate. It has turned out, after a little over a year, to be unworkable in its present form. How many more times in the future are we going to be

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