Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (26 June) . . Page.. 2653 ..
I remind members of the Assembly that when we had the debate about the emails I seem to remember that people were quite prepared to say they did not think it was appropriate to refer the matter to a privileges committee. Then, of course, the majority of members thought we should, the committee was appointed and a contempt was found.
Everyone has the opportunity at this point to make a decision informed by the information as they see it, and that is what I have done. In my view, the intent has not been proven. Mr Wood took the time and made the effort to seek advice on whether it was appropriate that certain questions should be allowed to be asked and whether he could be forced to answer certain questions, and by seeking that advice he was showing good faith in wanting to work with respected principles of the Assembly. That is what the Clerk is there for, and if people seek that advice, that is something that we have to take into account.
MRS CROSS: Mr Speaker, I have never done this before, but I seek leave to speak again.
MRS CROSS: I have just listened to Ms Tucker and I understand what she is saying, but my concern with this issue is not that the minister went to seek guidance from the Clerk-I think we all do that from time to time. Seeking guidance or advice from the Clerk does not give anyone the right to come to an estimates committee and decide that they are not going to give information to that committee when asked to do so. One does not equal the other. It is a little bit like taking out an insurance policy, deliberately going out and doing whatever you have to do, assuming speculation, and then saying, "Well, we'll claim it."Insurance investigators look into an insurance claim to determine validity and genuineness.
I think it is admirable that the minister sought guidance and advice. I think it is admirable that members go to the Clerk, whom we have a very high regard for, to seek advice. That does not, however, give the minister or any other member of this Assembly or any parliament the right to come before any committee, and an estimates committee in particular, and decide that "I'll allow that"or "I'm not going to answer it". That cannot happen.
The concern that I have as a new member in this place is that I regard those who have been here the longest as role models. I look to learn from those who have far more experience than I do in this Assembly. I have seen members of this place who have been here a long time showing obvious contempt for the procedures and processes of this Assembly. They do it and they are smug about it. In fact, some of the ministers who came before the Estimates Committee actually made quite disparaging comments under their breath that they thought we could not hear. Well, we could hear. It was obvious to me that they considered the estimates process a waste of time. That is how it appeared to me.
I am only new and I do not know as much as most of the members of this place, but it was obvious that there was a sense of arrogance and contempt and that some ministers considered the committee process a waste of time. Seeking information, guidance or advice from a clerk or anyone else in this place does not give any of us the right to come