Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 26 August 2008) . . Page.. 3570 ..
I feel that I must also refer to paragraph 7.15. It is recorded in the minutes and therefore I need to record it here. Whilst this is a unanimous report, I did dissent—it is recorded in the minutes—from the last sentence in that paragraph. I did not dissent sufficiently that I wanted to make dissenting comments, but I should draw to members’ attention my view that, if Ms MacDonald had been concerned about the operation of the committee, there were recourses other than going to Mr Corbell.
If Ms MacDonald had a concern about the proper operation of the committee, it could have been raised with the Clerk, the committee secretary, the committee chairman or the Speaker. It is not my view, therefore, that Ms MacDonald had a reasonable excuse in taking this matter to Mr Corbell. However, I do concur with the view that taking this matter to Mr Corbell did not seriously impede the work of the committee—nor did Ms MacDonald intend to impede it.
As Mr Mulcahy has said, this is a bit of a wake-up call for all of us who work on committees, to make sure that we act with propriety and, most of all, just take that little bit of extra care. Some of the recommendations that have been made by the committee will result in some slightly different practices in the committee office, I hope. They may be slightly more cumbersome, but they will mean that in the future people will be protected from being subjected to an inquiry like this one. It is a salutary lesson for us all. From time to time, we need to take stock of our practices.
While I concur with all the other members of the committee that there is no contempt—there was no desire to derail things—it is a timely wake-up call for us, to ensure that we ensure that our practices are always according to Hoyle and done in an entirely transparent way.
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (10.44): As someone who put in a submission, I would like to make some comments. Unfortunately, there has not been time to take in all of the report; consequently, I will not refer to it. I think it is a bad idea to pick out one thing and not refer to the context. I want to make a comment about my own submission to the inquiry. I did say in the house at the time, and certainly in my letter, that I did not believe that the issue was serious enough to require a privileges committee to look into it. I felt that the committee did deal with it, and the report that has come out has found what I believed it would find.
I do think issues are raised—and I do not know whether the report goes into them—about the responsibility and role of the chair of an Assembly committee. I do not have intimate knowledge of every committee. I am aware of the two of which I am a member, and one of which I am the chair. Chairs choose to act in different ways in relation to their committees.
For instance, in the committee that I chair, there is a tendency to clear everything past all the members, but that may not be the case in every committee. What it points to is that we do need a little more work to be done regarding the role of chairs of committees. That is definitely raised in this case. I have not seen Mr Stefaniak’s submission but I believe he felt that he was acting within what he saw as the role of the chair. But the fact that a privileges committee was set up indicates that other people do not hold that view of the role of the chair.