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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (14 June) . . Page.. 1719 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

However, after considering the issue very seriously, we are not able to support it, for similar reasons to those put by Mr Kaine, Mr Stanhope, Mr Humphries and Mr Moore. It is a blurring between the executive and the Assembly.

I noticed in the paper today that Mr Rugendyke said he wanted to keep the bastards honest, but what he is doing with this legislation is making himself one of the bastards because he is removing that separation. He is making it a collective responsibility and you no longer have the capacity for scrutiny of the executive because it is not the executive's decision to have this inquiry. That is exactly the blurring. We all become collectively responsible. So who is actually going to be giving the scrutiny? Who is going to be scrutinising this decision? Who will be able to scrutinise whether in fact it is correctly put together, and whether the terms of reference are correctly put together and so on? So there are significant dilemmas here because we have got an inquiry that I think we needed.

There is another way that we could have dealt with this, which is politically. If we have a piece of legislation like this, it has no penalties. The government can still ignore, as it has often chosen to ignore, the will of the majority of the Assembly.

Mr Moore explained, and we know, that a motion is not binding, but we have seen a very clear will of the majority of the Assembly ignored by this minority government. When there has been a suggestion that they could be penalised for that politically, through a censure motion or a no-confidence motion, it has often been Mr Rugendyke and Mr Osborne who would support that. In fact, Mr Rugendyke has said on several occasions publicly that it is the government's job to do its job. It is the government's job to do its business, and Mr Rugendyke does not see that it is his role to obstruct that, which is a very inconsistent position with what his legislation is doing today. So I am not quite sure where Mr Rugendyke is coming from in his general philosophy or approach to the Westminster system and the role of the executive at all, because his statements on it are inconsistent.

My concern is that this legislation would not achieve anything except a further blurring of the powers between the executive and the parliament, and therefore the accountability of the parliament. If we are interested in keeping the bastards honest, as Mr Rugendyke said, although it is not necessarily the way I put it, then you have to be careful about doing things like this, because you are actually removing that capacity.

MR WOOD (12.00): Mr Speaker, I think it is a bit late for me to move that we recommit that vote on that education budget back in about 1994 or thereabouts.

Mr Kaine: Well, you could try, Bill.

MR WOOD: I do not think that would achieve a great deal today. I think all speakers acknowledge that this is a debate we need to have, and thank you, Mr Rugendyke, for initiating it. In the end, how do you express the will of the Assembly? That is a point Ms Tucker was just making. How do you express the will of the Assembly? Is there a demarcation? There is certainly not a clear demarcation between the rights of the government as against the will of the Assembly.

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