Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (30 August) . . Page.. 3792 ..

When you have a government that does not seem to understand the concept of the separation of powers, when you have a government in which ministers think that they run the administration and that senior public servants do not run the administration, when you have ministers whose staffers, not even public servants, take executive roles, issue directives and directly oversight what is happening at the bottom end of the command structure in the public service-I cite, for instance, the tragic hospital implosion-and when we have ministers who think that they run the legislature and put forward proposals that would create executive committees consisting of elected members of this place, committees not responsible to this place but to a minister, you have to ask: does that executive have even the faintest notion of what the separation of powers means? That is probably where the greatest failure has been over the last 31/2 years in the life of this place.

We are being constantly told by ministers that the public service is a wonderful service that does its job well and that public servants are professionals. By and large, I agree with that. That means, though, that if there are failures in government it comes back to the executive.

As I have just outlined, there are many ways in which this executive has displayed that it does not have much concept of what its role and responsibility are. Of course, the other part of its performance has that, when things went bad, all those great public servants suddenly became responsible for it all. They are great public servants one day, but when money is unlawfully spent, or when money is unlawfully borrowed, public servants have failed in their duty. That, to me, is the ultimate failure of an executive-when public servants do as they directed to do, presumably by the executive, and then when it goes wrong the executive blames the public servants for the failure.

As I said, if this debate had begun with some definition or benchmark of what good government was, this good government that we are supposed to be committed to, then there might have been some merit in this debate. But I do not see that it is a very productive debate at all. After Mr Moore closes the debate and goes on his merry way, we have to ask just what this debate contributed. My suspicion is that the answer is nothing.

MR QUINLAN (4.21): I was not intending to speak in this debate, but I feel that I would like to, given some of the things that have been said earlier. I want to address some of the things Mr Moore said. I appreciate his motivation for making his speech today. He talked about perverse results and conspiracy theories as if the structure of parliament were the root cause. That has to be seen as somewhat naive.

I have had a fair bit of experience with boards of management, community groups and clubs, big and small. It is quite clear that in those processes it is part of the human condition for people of like mind to coalesce on an issue and for there to be divisions between groups. It is part of the human condition that there are egos. It is part of the human condition that there is occasionally the need for power, and therefore power struggles ensue.

It is idealising the parliament to say that if we did things a little differently all things would be different. That is largely nonsense. If we compiled statistics, we would probably see that the great proportion of legislation in this place gets bipartisan support.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .