Page 100 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 7 December 2004

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and because we are all located in the one place we can be just generally more efficient,” you’ll find a shaving and a paring, as the Chief Minister spoke about before his election to the position of Chief Minister back in 2001. He was very keen to talk about how he would sort of make savings by shaving and paring. I hope that this is not such an occasion when there will be such shaving and paring that the people who are supposed to benefit from this will in fact be left out of the equation and will not be considered in the move towards efficiency.

As somebody who subscribes to the principle of subsidiarity, for the most part I think that there have to be really compelling arguments why this statutory oversight is not done in discrete areas that relate directly to the bodies and the legislation that they have to oversee, because there you have built up a body of expertise, you have built up a body of knowledge, you have built up a corporate knowledge which may be undermined by the establishment of some uber statutory overseer. As a result, I think that we need to progress cautiously when we move down the path of statutory oversight to ensure that we maintain our status as a civilised society and a civilised protector of the vulnerable and the disabled.

It’s interesting that Dr Foskey has raised this issue today and raised the question in my mind and the minds of my colleagues about the effectiveness of statutory oversight on the same day as we have had the debate about the community being nobbled by the lack of access to a committee process that may be the outcome of the committees established in this Assembly. One of the things that we have to make sure are happening is that, as doors are closed to the community, which is almost certainly to be the case under the current committee regime, all other doors are open for the community. We have to use this review of the statutory oversight procedures to ensure that that door is propped open and that the government cannot close it on the community. We have to ensure that the voice of the community is still able to be heard in the corridors of power, if not in the corridors of the Legislative Assembly.

I think that it is very appropriate that Dr Foskey has raised this almost coincidentally with the discussion that we had this morning about the establishment of the committees because there is a very important relationship between the committees and statutory oversight. It was through the communication between a statutory overseer, the Community Advocate, and the previous CSSE committee that we first became aware of problems with reporting under section 161 of the Children and Young People Act, and I hope that that level of communication can remain open. It was also paying tribute to the work done by members of the previous Assembly. There was considerable oversight of this review process by Estimates Committees and others.

I was inquiring about and discussing the other day with officials the progress of the statutory oversight review. I heard myself asking questions that I am sure in the past Ms Dundas would have asked. I thought that perhaps I had caught something along the way and that even more of the ability of Ros Dundas had rubbed off on this community than I had hitherto thought, when I found myself asking the same questions that year in and year out she had asked about: where were we with the statutory oversight review, what was the progress, when were we going to see the outcomes, et cetera.

We need to be very careful when we are making decisions about this, especially in the climate where we have a majority government, that the community gets its say, that it is

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