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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 2 Hansard (21 February) . . Page.. 491 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

legislation to do just that in relation to police power. But are we going back to effective decisions? Reports are open to being contested, as some of us did with the housing report. I am just not sure how wise it would be-I have an open mind, but I want to question it-to go back to numbers of other reports that have been through the Assembly; to go through the whole process of coming back into this place and debating these matters. I just want to think some more about that.

For that reason, and to clarify matters and not just sort it out as we speak, I might seek to adjourn the debate to a later time. But we will see how this debate goes in the in-principle stage.

I would also like to say that there is a risk in using annual reports as a wider monitoring device as this could deflect from the main purpose, which is the reporting on agency performance during the reporting year. I would also like to make sure that the operation of the Legal Affairs Committee in relation to scrutiny of bills and subordinate legislation is not picked up by the requirements. That is not really an annual reports issue.

However, on behalf of the Chief Minister, I undertake that in respect of anything prospective the proposed reporting requirements will be included in the 2001-02 annual report directions due to be tabled in May this year.

MR HUMPHRIES (Leader of the Opposition) (3.46): Mr Speaker, like the government, the opposition supports the thrust of what is in this motion and believes that there probably is a need for our system to develop a way of continuing the work of committees from different Assemblies. We perpetrate the myth that when the Assembly finishes, all its work finishes and nothing goes forward. But, in fact, much of what is done in any individual Assembly, particularly in the Assembly's committees, has the potential to be of ongoing and enduring value and therefore a process to provide continuing monitoring of the work of committees is probably worthwhile.

I put that in the context of the comments I made early in the life of this Assembly that there needs to be a lift in the quality of the work of the Assembly committees. Having said that, I acknowledge that much good work has been done in previous Assemblies by the committees of those Assemblies and there needs to be some way of being able to report on the value of that work.

Mr Speaker, I agree that it is necessary to carry forward the intent of this motion. However, I have to say that I have a different view from the government about the meaning in paragraph (2). The paragraph refers to "the current government's responses to committee reports of the Fourth Assembly". I think the use of the words "current government's" rather than the "former opposition's" responses to committee reports is significant. What this means, as I understand it, is that when the government that is now in place chooses to respond to issues raised by the previous Assembly's committees, those responses will be reported against in the schedules to annual reports, or whatever they might be, that are referred to in this motion. Today, for example, we have had a government response to the Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration's report No 27 of 2001.

Mr Quinlan: An exemplary report.

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