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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 3601 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

If we gave powers to Assembly committees, we might end up with a conflict of interest in their role, given that they are part of the scrutinising mechanisms of government and effectively replace the house of review we do not have. Governments around Australia are used to working with hostile houses of review, so I guess no government here can complain too much about an array of committees that may be hostile from time to time. But it does mean that we have to be practical in the division of roles between the committees and the government.

I do not think this bill is a practical solution, but I understand motivation behind the legislation. The last few years have not been a particularly exemplary period. I trust that the government of the future, whatever its colour might be, learns from that and that we do see more effective administration and administration performing its true role. But I do not think we can go as far as this bill would like us to within the structures of achieving that.

MR SPEAKER: Before I call on Mr Osborne to close the debate, I would like to recognise the presence in the gallery of year 10 students from St Clare's College. Welcome to your Assembly.

MR OSBORNE (12.16), in reply: This whole issue over this piece of legislation is so pathetic that it is nearly funny. I need to answer a couple of things Mr Kaine said. I thought he was going to support the legislation, until he advised me that it had been drafted badly. I remind him that the legislation was put together with the assistance of Mr John Uhr from the ANU, who wrote the bible on the public service, and Mr Tony Harris, the former New South Wales Auditor-General. A number of the criticisms Mr Kaine raised have been fixed by way of amendments we circulated to all members over a month ago. So clearly Mr Kaine has not done his homework.

Mr Speaker, I tabled the bill on 14 February this year. We put a lot of work into it. We put the bill forward because we had had a look at the policies of the Labor Party. I had looked at some of the speeches they had made on the legislation I supported in 1995. We put up a piece of legislation that I never in my wildest dreams conceived the Labor Party would vote against. This bill is about whether we want a career public service or not. I assumed that the Labor Party, perhaps with some amendments, would support the legislation.

I immediately started work with Mr Berry's office on it. He was the spokesman. They had a number of problems. We met with the TLC. We met with the different unions, and I gave them a copy of the bill. I said, "Here, take the bill. Tell me what you think and come back with some recommendations." A couple of weeks later the office of the Leader of the Opposition, who is not here-I suspect he is too afraid to come down and defend his position on this-came out in the Canberra Times and bagged the legislation and said, "There is no way we are going to support this."

You can imagine my surprise, given that I had been working with who I thought was the Labor Party spokesman on this issue, Mr Berry. I was approached by members of the media, who said, "Stanhope's office have told us that there is no way they are supporting this bill." The only reason I could get out of them at the time was that it was mine and that they had not thought of it first.

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