Page 2046 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 21 June 2005

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MS MacDONALD: Thank you, Mr Speaker; and thank you, Mr Smyth, for that 20-second waste of time. As I was saying, the deliberative meetings last week were a fairly painful process, whereby three out of five members of the committee came in. I might even put it at three and a half, because I think Mr Seselja was prepared to work cooperatively on the report. But certainly one member of the committee—Mr Mulcahy—wanted to have a dissertation on every paragraph. He would put his point of view on what it should say, and then we would say, “We don’t agree.” Then there would be this ongoing argument of, “You haven’t understood what I mean.” Twenty minutes would go past and we would still not have got past that particular paragraph.

I was quite happy when we got to the meeting on Saturday, and we got through a couple of chapters over the few hours. Then last night Mr Mulcahy came to the meeting and wanted to be constructive. It was very good wasn’t it, Ms Porter? Mr Mulcahy came to the meeting and made a suggestion that would speed up the process. He said, “How about we deal with Dr Foskey’s suggestions and then we can deal with my suggestions of issue with the report; with Mr Seselja’s issues; and with Ms Porter’s issues, if there are any particular issues.” That did speed up the process considerably. I thought we—or if not us, the committee secretaries—were going to be stuck there until the wee small hours. It was indeed a pleasure to get out of this place at a quarter to ten last night.

I got home last night and thought, “Well, that was a lot less unpleasant than I thought. Maybe I won’t be so hard on them tomorrow.” Then I thought, “Hang on a second! There were some absolutely excruciating moments in the process. Their behaviour of acting cooperatively in the last few hours of deliberating does not make up for all that absolutely unworkable behaviour.” I thought, “I really shouldn’t, but I might go a little bit easier on them today.” I have to say that, when I found out at 7.30 this morning that the Liberal members of the committee had put in an 82-page dissenting report, I felt like I had been given the green light to have a go, and to point out the absolutely abominable behaviour, particularly from Mr Mulcahy, to try to make the process unworkable.

I don’t know what the tactic is behind Mr Mulcahy’s trying to argue every clause, which he did for the first half of the report. I have been thinking about it for a while and I think what he wanted to do was for this place not to have an estimates committee report. I think it was a case of, “I’m going to spit my dummy out. I didn’t get the chair of this committee and I didn’t put my hand up to go for deputy chair of the committee; therefore I’m going to be a wrecker; I’m not going to contribute positively; I’m going to undermine the process.”

I would say that the last chapter of the dissenting report, which I have read—and as I have already said, it gave me great amusement this morning—having not read the rest of it, shows a total lack of understanding of the way the estimates committee process works. I accept that Mr Mulcahy and Mr Seselja were new to the committee. Dr Foskey and Ms Porter were also new to the committee and they were prepared, in spite of the fact that Dr Foskey and I and Ms Porter and I did not always agree on what should be in the report, to come to the process, come to the table, sit down like adults, argue about things properly and accept when they did not have the numbers.

Dr Foskey has put in two pages of additional comments of things that she feels need to be highlighted. Ms Porter and I have put in a couple of extra paragraphs of additional

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