Page 1321 - Week 04 - Thursday, 10 April 2008

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As I say again, if I have misunderstood, if the crossbench are now going to actually come on the committee, I would welcome them. But if there are not going to be crossbench members we may need other amendments that would take account of that. But I certainly support Mrs Burke’s amendment.

It is disappointing that this government unfortunately does not want to be scrutinised and continues to demonstrate that. It demonstrates that most particularly with the functional review, which again we see Mr Stanhope is refusing to give to the public accounts committee. This has been their attitude to scrutiny. They are afraid to release the document that most clearly has shaped their budgets over the past couple of years. Of course we know they are afraid to release it because the assumptions do not stack up.

This amendment would be better than nothing. I support Mrs Burke’s amendment to Mr Corbell’s amendments. Mr Corbell’s amendments unfortunately follow the pattern of this government over the past few years where it has sought to shut down scrutiny; it has sought to shut down debate; and it has sought to do that by simply putting government backbenchers on the committee to do the government’s bidding, to do the ministry’s bidding. And that is not good for accountability and that is not good for democracy. That is why we oppose his amendments.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (4.13): I am speaking to Mrs Burke’s amendment. The government will not be supporting Mrs Burke’s amendment. Of course, the facts do not back up the Liberals’ rhetoric on this matter. I will make two very simple and quick points.

The first is that, after a month of public hearings, including questioning of ministers and officials, as well as submissions from the public, the government then permitted 16 hours of debate on last year’s budget. There can be no suggestion, on the facts, that there was not sufficient time for scrutiny and debate. I think if any of those opposite went to any member of the community and said, “We got 16 hours of debate on the budget; is that not unfair?” everyone would laugh at them.

The government will not be supporting Mrs Burke’s amendment to my amendments. I foreshadow that I will be seeking leave, following the Assembly’s consideration of Mrs Burke’s amendment, to amend my amendments. I have circulated revised amendments to members. I foreshadow that they deal with the issues that have emerged since the indication by Dr Foskey and Mr Mulcahy that they do not intend to participate in this year’s estimates committee as a member of the committee.

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (4.15): Despite the gratuitous way in which it was presented, I am going to speak in support of Mrs Burke’s amendment. Before the luncheon adjournment I outlined my general view about how this committee should operate and I do not change my view on that, notwithstanding the predictable outcome.

Mr Seselja invited to be corrected if he had misunderstood the situation. I suggest that he did misunderstand the situation. The fact of the matter is—I cannot speak for Dr Foskey—I intend to be quite involved in the estimates process. Mr Corbell, I think,

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