Page 4405 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 22 November 2005

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Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Detail stage

Clause 1.

Debate (on motion by Mr Corbell) adjourned to the next sitting.

Administration (Interstate Agreements) Repeal Bill 2005

Debate resumed from 20 October 2005, on motion by Mr Stanhope:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (12.11): The opposition will not be supporting this bill. Despite the claim of the Chief Minister, we see it as a backward step in accountability and openness of government. In the final paragraph of his tabling speech, the Chief Minister said:

These measures represent a major enhancement of the openness of the ACT government’s intergovernmental relations.

In fact, the bill is cloudy at best. In reality, it is a retrograde step. The Administration (Interstate Agreements) Act was enacted in 1997 following the publication of the Scrutiny of National Schemes of Legislation Position Paper in October 1996. Historians and those with a recollection of the time tell me that in 1997 when it was passed unopposed in this place—it was passed on the voices—we were the envy of other jurisdictions.

What was the purpose of the act? It placed the parliament over the executive. It affirmed that primacy is with the parliament, not necessarily with those who are in charge. I would like to read from the position paper prepared by the Working Party of Representatives of Scrutiny of Legislation Committees throughout Australia, tabled in October 1996. On page 7, under the heading “The Role of Parliament as Lawmaker”, the paper states:

Parliament has a constitutional obligation to make laws for the peace, order, and good Government of the State.

That is the role of the parliament, not the executive. I will read another quote from the then Premier of Tasmania, Ray Groom. He says:

It really concerns me that the whole matter is getting out of hand and laws are being created which are not really genuine products of the democratic process; they are not genuine products of the Parliaments—that might seem a strange thing to say but I really believe that that is the case. I do know that in certain cases we have had uniform legislation created without Members of Parliament really examining and

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