Page 50 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 7 December 2004
a number of unanimous reports, regardless of the make-up of the committee, and that has served this place well.
Governments do not often like what committees come up with. I remember that, as education minister, I often did not like some of the comments made by Ms Tucker’s education committee, but there was usually a lot of good sense in most of the recommendations. Most of the recommendations of that committee were accepted by government. When you go through the history, most of the recommendations of all committees have been accepted by government. Because committees have taken evidence, they adopt largely a reasonably bipartisan stance.
That is not always the way, and it will never always be the way. But certainly in the history of this place, a lot of good work has been done in committees and effectively a more bipartisan stance has been taken and I think that has been for the better good of the people of the ACT and the good governance of the ACT. Just because we have a majority government now does not mean we need to throw all of that out and discard a system that has served us well.
The current government was in a pretty strong position in the last Assembly. It had eight members, and it had a Green member who was ideologically committed to a number of things the government was doing. It was in a fairly strong position. Mr Hargreaves was then the government whip, as I was the opposition whip to start with. Indeed we came up with six committees. And if Ms Foskey’s motion were accepted, I suggest it would be pretty well the six committees that served the Fifth Assembly and the community of Canberra very well. That included a CSSE committee, as it was called, which is exactly what Dr Foskey is proposing here.
That would simply reinstate the very good system we had in the last Assembly. For a body this size and, given the composition of members of this place, that is not unreasonable. That would not put an unreasonable strain on government members, opposition members, or indeed the crossbench. It is not the situation we had when we had smaller governments, when people like Robyn Nolan, Harold Hird and Bill Wood were on every single committee and run absolutely ragged. That would not be the situation at all.
But it would give a good spread right across the spectrum of things we need to do. And the CSSE committee, as proposed by Ms Foskey, would pick up those areas that are probably not going to get the same attention under this proposed new structure by the government. I can count: it is going to get through. But what Dr Foskey is proposing is a much better approach because it dovetails with what we had before and gives sufficient emphasis to those areas this government says a lot about—probably paying lip service—but when it comes to the crunch does not necessarily deliver.
Well, here is your chance. If you accept what Dr Foskey has done, you will be able at least to establish a committee to look at these important areas that are not currently being looked at. I foreshadow Mr Mulcahy’s motion. It is a sensible one, ensuring that public works is in the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. It is a very important area of government and needs to be properly examined. Mr Mulcahy will explain more about that. It is certainly something the opposition also urges on this Assembly. I make these points in this debate, and I will be supporting Dr Foskey’s amendment.