Page 41 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 7 December 2004

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(9) Nominations for membership of these committees be notified in writing to the Speaker within 15 minutes following conclusion of the debate on the matter.

Mr Speaker, I will speak reasonably briefly to this very lengthy motion. I want to go through the motion because it sets out how the committees will be set up. The first part of the motion, of course, describes what the committees will deal with. The second part of the motion deals specifically with the Legal Affairs Committee and the Planning and Environment Committee. These two committees have statutory obligations that need to be addressed when the Assembly is not sitting. The latter parts of the motion deal with the composition of the committees as well as the composition of the Administration and Procedure Committee, which is established under the standing orders.

There has been some discussion in the press about these committees. I would like to make some points about the committees because I imagine that there will be some ensuing debate and discussion about this motion. We should keep in mind that it is the role of the Assembly to be the decision-making body. It is the role and the right of the executive to govern and I am happy to say in my first speech in the Sixth Assembly that I am pleased to see that we have a majority government. Obviously, I am pleased that that government is from our side of the fence. However, many people from the other side of the fence have said to me that majority government will make life a lot easier and put a lot more certainty into this place.

This does not take away from the role played by committees. Committees do have a role to look closely at issues of concern that might fall between the cracks and which from time to time may not be dealt with by the executive. We should not confuse the role of committees. They are not decision-making bodies. Committees are the creation of the Assembly and they reflect the makeup of the Assembly.

The structure that we propose follows broad policy lines. There will always be the situation where some areas may well get overlooked and there may not be as much attention to detail as some would like. I know that in the Fifth Assembly there were areas that I would have liked to have seen covered by the three committees of which I was a member. Sometimes the committees just did not have the time to do so. We have a very small Assembly—as you well know, Mr Speaker, we have the smallest parliament in the country—and, as such, we can spend only a limited amount of time on certain issues. It is up to the committees to make the decision as to what areas they will focus on.

I do not believe—in fact, I am quite certain that this is not the case—that there will be any less scrutiny just because the committee structure, as proposed, does not necessarily reflect the desires of certain people. The committees still have the ability to make decisions. There are still plenty of ways and mechanisms within this place to scrutinise the executive, and I am quite positive that the Liberal opposition and the crossbench will be doing that. Mr Speaker, I commend the motion.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (11.45): Thank you, Mr Speaker. The Liberal opposition will be opposing this motion, and what is there now is a futile gesture. This is the first day of majority government in this place, and what do we see but this travesty of the committee system. The committee system in this place has been an essential element of community participation in the political process, reflecting the community and reflecting

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