Page 2104 - Week 06 - Thursday, 26 June 2008
spending, or detail how they spent it, when they are asked. They are there to answer the questions, not to avoid them.
It all comes back to this arrogant attitude: “We do not have to answer your questions, because we control the numbers.” It is a very dangerous thing to happen in a small Assembly like this where we do not have a house of review and we do not have a lot of means to come back and question. It does behove the government to answer honestly and openly.
There were a number of questions taken on notice—questions on notice, placed on notice—that have still not been answered. There is Mr Mulcahy saying that the opposition are lazy. We put our questions on notice. We expect answers. We deserve answers. They are answers to a committee. It is impossible to form an opinion on the budget until you have your questions answered. Ministers have a responsibility to answer those questions.
The Chief Minister, when Leader of the Opposition, talked about being more honest, more open, more accountable. Since they came to government, we have seen the accountability eroded constantly through control in the majority of committees, the disappearance of reporting mechanisms and the disappearance of accountability. That is a shame. People look at us and wonder why this is so. There is a code of conduct. It would be appropriate to make sure that the code is adhered to.
In the report, one of the interesting things concerned back pay to ministerial staffers. Assembly staffers were apparently paid their back pay after the new EBA was agreed to in April last year. It took until November for ministerial staffers to be paid. It is curious that the federal Labor government went to town on working families and looking after working families, yet the ACT Labor government cannot even pay their staffers their back pay. We never got an answer to that question. Perhaps the Chief Minister will answer if he takes the opportunity to stand and speak to this issue.
Some questions were asked particularly concerning cultural education—on the Bell Shakespeare Company and Kulture Break. They were asked by Dr Foskey. They were well asked. As you would know, Mr Deputy Speaker, Kulture Break is well regarded in Tuggeranong, in the wonderful electorate of Brindabella. They do a great job. Francis and the guys do a fabulous job by using contemporary youth culture to engage young people in fitness, in health, in building mental resilience and in having a drug-free culture. It is important that groups like that do get funded, that they do have a future and that they do have a role in our society. I commend the government particularly for funding Kulture Break. It is a sensational organisation—young people looking out for young people, giving young people a great example. That is something that we should encourage.
There are a number of recommendations that the government has not picked up. In particular, in relation to recommendations 1 to 6, the response from the Chief Minister, has noted: “Recommendation 1 agreed in principle. Recommendation 2 noted. Recommendation 3 noted, 4 noted, 5 noted and 6 noted.”
As the Chief Minister quite rightly points out, these are matters for the Assembly to determine. I bring them to attention of the Speaker. What it does is hopefully detail a