Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 4175 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
to all members of the Assembly within 14 working days, if the Assembly is not sitting in that period. The level of transparency and accountability is very high in this legislation. I do not believe the authority should be singled out, when no other statutory body-not even the Auditor-General-is required to report in this way.
I note that Mrs Dunne's amendment does not say that the authority should appear-it simply says that a report must be given. So that does not necessarily mean an appearance, but I guess that would be dependent upon the committee.
Mr Speaker, the amendment is unwarranted and unnecessary. I do not believe it is reasonable to assert that this authority, above all others, should be singled out for this level of scrutiny, given that the proposed levels of scrutiny and transparency in terms of information provided are already very high-as they should be-and have been agreed to by the government in the bill.
MS TUCKER (9.27): The Greens will not be supporting this amendment, for similar reasons to the ones expressed by Mr Corbell. I am not of the view that reporting is required twice a year. That is not a common practice, and would create unnecessary work for the authority, and also for the committee. However, if the committee is choosing to do this extra work, then that is obviously their decision.
I would not agree that this legislation requires this extra reporting above all the other areas of interest to the community. Mrs Dunne feels-and I respect her right to do that-that it is the most important area, but my view is that there are many other areas of government activity which are equally important. Certainly I could argue that, in the health committee, there are a number of areas of government activity about which I am concerned which need more attention. However, I would not seek to do this by having them report twice a year. I think there are some real issues about that form of scrutiny anyway.
There are many other ways in which committees can look at what is going on. I am sure you will do that in the Planning and Environment Committee, in the various inquiries that you initiate. So you will have the opportunity, if you wish, to have ongoing scrutiny of how the authority is working through the general inquiry work that you carry out.
MS DUNDAS (9.29): I have listened to this debate with great interest. I am glad we are having this debate, because we need to discuss again the issues of transparency of this authority, and also the ability of MLAs to have access to the Planning and Land Authority.
I think there is still a little uncertainty about the level of access members of this Assembly will have to both the authority and the council, and whether they too will have the ability to receive independent information on planning issues from these bodies. I know that, through the round-table process and ongoing discussions, there are some amendments that go some steps forward to addressing these. To a certain extent, it is going to be a case of: "Let's see how it works."This amendment was one suggestion to help move things forward-by having the authority report to the Planning and Environment Committee. I have been thinking this over, and I do not believe that will necessarily help the situation.