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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (14 June) . . Page.. 1711 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

and vice versa. I suspect that each of us, if asked to answer that question, would give a slightly different answer about how far one can go vis-a-vis the other. That being the case, it is not a good basis on which to proceed to provide good government in the ACT.

The question that has to be asked is: what is ultimately preserved for the role of the executive? What can the executive do that no-one could ever suggest should be decided by somebody else? I am not quite sure what that is at the present time, but, Mr Speaker, as I have said, this has been a process of continual change. Perhaps we should be clear that each change is a good change before we choose to make it.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (11.23): Mr Speaker, I welcome the speech that the Chief Minister has just made in relation to a subject that is of considerable interest to me and I think to many others of us here in the Assembly. In his speech the Chief Minister referred to the fact that he believes views about the powers of the executive vis-a-vis the legislature change depending on whether or not one is a member of the executive or occupies some other position in the executive. I am not sure that that is entirely true. I think many of us in this place do have the capacity to view and to consider issues around the nature of the respective powers of the executive and of the legislature in a dispassionate way with a view to determining what we think is in the best interests of parliament. What is in the best interests of this parliament is also in the best interests of good government in this community.

On a number of occasions over the last three years, Mr Speaker, I have raised issues around the application of the Westminster conventions and the conventions under which this parliament operates with a view to generating some discussion, not just in this place but also within the community, and I have regretted the paucity of analysis from outside this place of the conventions under which this parliament operates. I think as a parliament that we are not well served in terms of academic or media analysis of the operations of this parliament.

I agree with the Chief Minister very much that there are a number of issues that face us in relation to the respective powers of the executive and the legislature, and the relationship between the legislative, the executive and the judiciary, that have not been well considered and have not been well thought out. We sometimes use as a justification for the lack of analysis the fact that we are a young parliament and that we are finding our way, and that seems to me to suggest that there should be a far more detailed analysis of the conventions that affect this place. It is something I have quite strong views about, and, as I say, I was encouraged by the very considered remarks which the Chief Minister just made. I am quite prepared to suggest that I share very many of the concerns that he has raised in terms of the rules and the conventions under which we operate.

Having said that, I must say that many of the concerns that I have had in relation to the blurring of the lines between the executive and the legislature are a result of the actions of the executive, which at times I have felt were perhaps inappropriate or unacceptable or in quite clear breach of my understanding of the standard or usual Westminster conventions under which, on a reading of House of Representatives Practice, I have always assumed were applicable in this place. I have raised the point in some ways in the same way that the Chief Minister just has; that there is a very obvious blurring of the application of some of those principles in this place, and that is very difficult.

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