Page 4446 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 22 November 2005
of the Labor Party for good government. They spoke of having the courage to allow themselves to be closely scrutinised. Since they have had majority government they have turned the committee system into an absolute sham. I am sure that Mr Gentleman will get up again, as he has in the past when I have raised these issues, and verbal me and say, “Why don’t you act in a bipartisan manner and why don’t you cooperate?” It is pretty hard to cooperate when all we get from the government members of this committee is lip-service. They take their orders from the cabinet and do their bidding. It has got to stop if we are going to have any cooperation in the committee process.
I am told that, prior to the 2004 election, the committee process was one of the best parts of this Assembly. I am told by various officials of this place that it is something that we want to protect and it is something that has worked. We are seeing now that it is not working. It is not working, in part because of the actions of some of the chairs of committees, in particular the chair of this committee. The experience I have had is that it has become an absolute rubber stamp.
We saw that in previous deliberations about City West. We had discussion about whether or not we should have something specific about gender balance. We had an argument about it, and the committee came to the view that no, we did not need to have anything specific. Then government members came back a day later and said, “We have to change that because government policy is that we have gender balance on boards.” What is the point of having a committee? What is the point of having a committee process when it is simply going to reflect government policy? We might as well all pack up and go home.
If Mr Gentleman is going to get up and say that I need to cooperate and I need to do this, and we have had all these months, the fact is that we had two days to consider an 87-page report. The meeting that was hastily convened to consider the report was pre-empted by the notice paper, the daily blue. What we see is just a rubber-stamping process. We have seen it before; now we are seeing it again.
As I have said, Mr Gentleman has lectured me in the past in this place on how I need to cooperate and do this and that. I have got some advice for Mr Gentleman. It is important that you do your job as a committee chair, that you seek to scrutinise what the government is doing, that you do not take orders from the government about what their time frame is and why this should be pushed through now. No-one has put to me a real argument as to why we suddenly had to have this hasty process and push this report through and have it tabled.
We talk about disallowance periods. As I say, we have known about it since May. We could have had plenty of notice and plenty of time to consider it, but we did not, for whatever reason—mismanagement by the government. If the government is concerned about it being disallowed, is there a government member who is planning to vote for disallowance and cross the floor? I do not think there is any danger of that. It would have been better if we had taken a little bit of time, had a week or two, as is often the practice specifically for lengthy reports, to consider it.
I suggest to Mr Gentleman, especially if he is going to get up and lecture me, which I am anticipating he will, if the committee process is going to work it will take all sides working together but it will take an understanding of what we as a committee are there to do. We are not there to rubber-stamp government policy. We are there to scrutinise, on