Page 362 - Week 01 - Thursday, 11 December 2008
Provided that, when these are applied, they reflect the ACT and some of these concerns in a sensible way, I am confident we will be able to support much of what is put forward. Obviously we will not pre-empt this process. We look forward to seeing how it works out and then we will judge, on its merits, what comes from this committee process.
MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water, Minister for Energy and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (4.08): The government is pleased to lend its support also to this motion. I thank Ms Hunter and her staff for the opportunity to provide some feedback on the proposed terms of reference. We look forward to this inquiry. In particular, it is important to note that the purpose is not so much to monitor how we are going in terms of the Latimer House principles; it is more about how do we identify and institutionalise a range of mechanisms to report and who should report and how that should be achieved. I think that is a sensible next step, given the endorsement of the principles today by the Assembly, and the government welcomes the reference.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (4.09): I rise in support of the motion. I did have a conversation with Ms Hunter this morning about whether the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure was exactly the right place for this to land and I suspect that the jury is out. There are a range of elements of the Latimer House agreements which reflect on the composition and operation of the Assembly and there are things in this agreement which will be beyond the remit of the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure to deal with. But I would expect, without anticipating too much, that those matters would be highlighted and perhaps advice would be given to the Assembly about where they might be best referred for more appropriate judgement.
I would like to reflect a little on the points made by Mr Seselja, and I suppose it is the note of caution that I have about the Latimer House agreements. These were agreements that were formulated by the commonwealth, and rightly so, but they reflect the nature of some of the emerging democracies in the commonwealth. I was reminded, when listening to Mr Seselja before, of the comments of Francis Fukuyama when he spoke last year at the ANU about the importance of institutions to maintain government. I think that we in Australia in general and in the ACT have mature institutions and when we undertake a thorough reflection of this we might find to our delight that there is a not a great deal that needs to be done here in enshrining and upholding the Latimer House agreements because unconsciously we are already doing that in many places.
That would not be the case in a range of other countries, some of which we, as a commonwealth parliament, have taken responsibility for. It is important that we lead by example. When we take on these principles, we should identify the areas where we are perhaps falling short and where we can improve. That is an example of how we should be adopting these principles and ensuring that commonwealth parliaments, whether they be new or old parliaments, have robust measures of protecting democracy and the rights of people. This is an important step along that path. I think that the work of enshrining and upholding these principles will not be done solely by the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure, and I think that there will be work for other people at other times.