Page 1319 - Week 04 - Thursday, 10 April 2008

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Our proposal now seems to be somewhat defunct given that the crossbench have decided to exclude themselves from what is, and should be, a very rigorous process of this Assembly. I had intended to move that the chair of the committee—

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Mrs Burke, are you still moving or have you finished moving your amendment?

MRS BURKE: I am, Mr Deputy Speaker. I was just waiting on your instructions. As I was saying, in this place we have a long-held convention that it is the opposition party that assumes the role of chair of select committees on estimates. That convention was broken in the last two previous estimates committees—and it may have been longer. Certainly the arrogance of the majority government has been shown very clearly. They have wanted to have complete control and completely hammer this particular select committee, which is a very important one for the community.

I am very surprised—very surprised—that we will have no crossbench member on this committee. But it does show the level of work commitment, I suppose, and work ethic. You can see it now, Mr Deputy Speaker. You will see them racing down with a little question, eager to get that question in, and then racing off to do the media release. It just shows the laziness and the lack of input that certain members of this place can have. They just fly in, do a little bit and fly out.

That is disappointing. We are a small unicameral parliament, and we depend upon our committee process for rigour. I share Dr Foskey’s frustration and sadness that we are not going to see the former shadow Treasurer, who often boasted about his wonderful knowledge of figures, holding the government to account. It makes one wonder exactly what his work is about these days.

The same motion was moved last year as our leader, Mr Seselja, moved today and we had exactly the same debate. The government refuses to concede that it should be an open and accountable process. They are saying, “We will not give you the chair. We will have complete control. We will take over and the chair will control everything, all of the proceedings.” It is disappointing.

I know that my amendment will not get up, but I wanted to move it as a sign that we are inclusive. The government is not, of course. It is quite disappointing that that long-held convention of this place once again is going to be pushed into oblivion by this very arrogant and very determined government. At the moment they have the numbers, but come 19 October it may be a different story. It is very disappointing to see that the government is not moving on this at all.

Last year Ms MacDonald said:

In every other parliament in this country where there is a majority government, the government holds the position of chair of the estimates committee.

Does that mean that this government has to be herded like sheep and do what everybody else does? We should be able to stand differently. As a unicameral

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