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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 4176 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

I believe that, in a sense, the Planning and Land Authority will report twice in a calendar year anyway-through the estimates process and through the annual reports. Information on how the authority was going would then be accessible. I would not want to duplicate that process and have the Planning and Land Authority spending most of its time writing reports, as opposed to being out there planning, educating, consulting and building a city of which we can all be proud.

I take on a number of the issues raised by the community through the committee's inquiry into this bill, and concerns raised again here by Mrs Dunne. I believe we will need to watch how the Planning and Land Authority is travelling. If necessary, maybe the Planning and Environment Committee will step in but, again, I think it is a wait and see situation.

MR HARGREAVES (9.31): Mr Speaker, one of the things that strike me about this is that we have to be careful not to set a precedent. What the minister is saying is quite right, and I want to add a little to that.

What worries me is that standing committees have the power to call for papers and to call for people to come before them and address whatever issues the standing committees feel necessary. we must be very careful about the fact that, whilst statutory authorities are independent, they are responsible to the Assembly and to the minister who has carriage of the portfolio. They are not responsible, per se, to standing committees.

It seems to me that what this proposes is that, for the first time, we will make a statutory authority responsible to a standing committee. The standing committee has plenty of power as it is. The statutory authorities must put forward annual reports to the Assembly so that the standing committee, if it feels so inclined, can call not only the statutory authorities to come before them for a particular issue but also the minister. That often happens, and I have not yet seen a minister knock back an opportunity.

So, Mr Speaker, I believe we have to be very careful not to create a precedent where an agency or statutory authority has a direct responsibility to a standing committee of this Assembly. This Assembly is not about the day-to-day governance of the territory-that is the responsibility of ministers. We hold ministers accountable for that. In the instance of having them responsible to a standing committee, suppose the standing committee did not like it? What are they going to do-move a no confidence motion in the CEO? I do not think so-they are going to move a no-confidence motion in the minister. That is not on-in my view. We hold the minister responsible for whatever happens in government, so I do not think that is the right thing.

I understand what Mrs Dunne is trying to do, but I think enough powers exist already within the context of the Assembly and the standing committee to achieve what she wants.

MRS DUNNE (9.33): The arguments against this amendment boil down to: "We can't do it because we don't do it now."Frankly, Mr Speaker, that is not a satisfactory approach.

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