Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 4174 ..
MRS DUNNE (continuing):
We take our responsibilities as a committee very seriously-to look into things, put our ideologies at the door and discuss and explore the issues. This is what this process would be. This is how the new model of a new polity and a new model of governance that this minister has talked about would be best assisted-by having this new level of transparency and accountability for an organisation. It may not be fun for the officers who run it to have to turn up before the committee to answer questions. However, they do that anyhow before our committee, and they do it very well.
I have great confidence that, if this amendment were to succeed, it would be of great benefit to the authority, to the government, to this Assembly, and to the broader community.
MR CORBELL (Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Minister for Planning and Minister for Industrial Relations) (9.23): Mr Speaker, the government believes this amendment is both unwarranted and unnecessary and will therefore not be supporting it.
It is unwarranted and unnecessary because there is no other statutory authority in the ACT that has a formal legislative requirement to report to the relevant committee of the Assembly on this sort of basis. In fact, there is no other statutory authority which has a requirement to appear before the relevant standing committee at all.
Not even the position of Auditor-General-the Auditor-General is indeed a creature of the Assembly, in that the Auditor-General reports only to the Assembly-is required to appear before the relevant standing committee of this place on a regular basis. Yes, the Auditor-General appears, but there is no legislative requirement for the Auditor-General to appear on a regular basis.
The same can be said of the planning authority. The planning authority will, of course, appear before the relevant standing committee to give information, evidence and advice on particular issues, as and when they emerge. There is every capacity in the legislation to allow the authority to do that, and to give its full and frank advice to the committee on issues the committee is considering, whether it is a draft variation to the Territory Plan or a broader policy issue relevant to the functions of the Planning and Land Authority.
I do not believe it is reasonable to insist that this authority, above all other authorities-even the Auditor-General-must appear regularly before the relevant standing committee in this place. The government argues that the existing reporting requirements are adequate, and indeed more than adequate. There is the annual report; the activities and finances of the authority are tested through both the estimates committee process and the annual report process, and there are other opportunities for the relevant standing committee to call the authority to give evidence. That is the intention of this government. It is the intention and the letter of this bill that allows for the authority to do that.
This authority is being required to comply with a transparent process in the tabling of information-when information is provided, how it is provided and when advice is given. There is a whole series of requirements that this Assembly is debating tonight, including the one we have just dealt with, which requires that any direction given by the minister to the authority must be tabled in this place within six sitting days, or provided