Page 1574 - Week 05 - Thursday, 7 April 2005
(3) committees should always reflect the makeup of the Legislative Assembly; and
(4) the Leader of the Opposition’s nominee should always chair a select committee on estimates; and, further, refers this to the ACT Liberal Party policy committee for consideration of appropriate measures to be inserted into the party’s platform so as to bind future parliamentary parties.
I am proud that the ACT Liberal Party room unanimously passed that motion yesterday. I am proud to be able to stand here today and say that the ACT Liberal Party, on every occasion, is unafraid of scrutiny; and that the ACT Liberal Party, when it obtains the government benches next, will not take the opportunity of temporary felicitous numerical superiority to ride roughshod over the Legislative Assembly and the people of the ACT. We will always be prepared to have scrutiny of our budgets.
When you think about it, the government’s manoeuvrings over the last couple of days—by attempting to prevent Dr Foskey from becoming a part of the estimates committee and by clearly stating its intention to take unto itself the chairmanship and the majority of the estimates committee—are its attempt to close down scrutiny. Members of the estimates committee are going to have to be particularly careful this year that the government members do not spend a whole lot of time trying to stop them from asking questions and pursuing particular lines of questioning.
That is what estimates are about. They are very inconvenient to governments for two or three weeks. Sometimes estimates committees will say things in estimates reports that are very inconvenient to governments that they will have to wear. At the end of the day, this government will get its budget, irrespective of what is in it, because it is a majority government. Why do they have to be afraid of two or three weeks worth of scrutiny? What is this government afraid of, that it will go to the lengths to which it has gone this week in an attempt to control the estimates committee in such a way as to close down real scrutiny?
I commend the decision of the ACT Liberal Party. I challenge the ACT Labor Party to make a similar undertaking, have it entrenched in its platform and bind its future members. I also commend to my colleagues and crossbench members who will be on the estimates committee the need to be exceedingly vigilant this year to ensure that the government does not entirely close you down, so that the scrutiny we expect in estimates does not become a sham run by this government.
Ms Regan Field
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (6.04): Every member of this house is beholden to their staff but I think that, as a lone crossbencher in this place and a new person, I am particularly in need of supportive and good people on my staff. Today I want to acknowledge the people who have helped me.
Often when I speak here I say “we”. That “we” is not the royal “we”; it is the “we” referring to me and my staff. I do not have a party room here, but yet I do not feel as though I am on my own because I have staff who are just wonderful to work with. I want to name them here and mention one in particular.