Page 1516 - Week 05 - Thursday, 7 April 2005

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this very important committee that scrutinises the ACT budget will be non-government members.

I realise that the reality of majority government in the Assembly does mean changes in some of the conventions of this place, as much as this may frustrate the non-government members. Of course that includes the crossbench. Having a majority of non-government members on the estimates committee is vital to give the committee some independence from government. I am certain that the non-government members, that is, the opposition and the crossbench, would agree with this sentiment.

I am clear—and it is important—that, as per standing order 221, all groups and parties in the Assembly are represented. The Greens, as the third party in the Assembly, are the party of scrutiny. The Greens also represent a constituency and concerns of the community that are not necessarily represented by the larger parties. I do feel a responsibility to fulfil that role of scrutiny and broad-ranging consideration of the budget.

In considering the various proposals and potential makeup of the estimates, we assessed the various proposals for this estimates committee against our usual criteria of transparency and accountability and made our decisions based on that. You can be sure that I consulted with members of my party before deciding how to act.

I reject the arguments put forward earlier today by the opposition that I gain any personal benefit from being on this committee. That argument is nonsense, as I outlined earlier in the day. I have no interest in the supposed prestige of being on a committee and I cannot see that I am going to gain anything personally from it. I just see it as my job to be on this committee. I am interested in working hard in this Assembly to ensure transparency and accountability and I am interested in representing the constituents of the Greens. In the case of this committee, I simply want to work hard to ensure that the budget is adequately scrutinised.

In regard to the chair of the estimates committee, that is something that will be worked out internally in the committee. But a government majority with a non-government chair would make the estimates process meaningless in terms of independence and accountability. Who chairs the committee is not the main point. The main point is that there is a majority of non-government members on it so that the budget can be properly scrutinised. Our view is that a government majority on the estimates committee would undermine the integrity of the committee. A Liberal chairperson would not alter that scenario. The outcome is not our preferred one but we are not in an ideal world.

This is the first time that we have had a majority government; so the way things work will obviously change and no doubt the Assembly is experiencing this. Obviously that experience is quite painful for some. This process, again, highlights the disadvantages of having that majority government in the Assembly, which the Greens have spoken about ever since I was elected.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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