Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 16 June 2009) . . Page.. 2308 ..
The Committee noted with concern that the date that Ms Gallagher chose to write to the Minister for Planning—21 May 2009—the final day of estimates hearings devoted to Health, removed herself from scrutiny on this issue.
Although the health minister returned to the committee to answer questions, Mr Barr refused to do so. And this was considered such a blatant act of contempt for proceedings that the committee went on:
The Committee recommends that the Assembly pursue the Minister for Planning, Mr Andrew Barr MLA, for his contempt of the Committee and accountability processes.
That is a serious recommendation on the back of a serious conclusion on the contempt this minister has shown for this process. He has put himself above the Assembly and above the processes put in place by the Assembly to inquire into matters. The committee recommended:
The Committee recommends that the Assembly pursue the Minister for Planning … for his contempt of the committee and accountability processes.
I think it is important that we actually follow up on that. No doubt the Assembly will now consider this recommendation and what further action needs to be taken as a result of that.
Another very concerning development—and we have already touched on the issue—is Ms Gallagher’s communications with the CEO of the department of health. As a result we have this quote:
The Committee is concerned about the departmental interference and the effect this may have on non-executive members’ ability to perform their role.
Sorry, that is the separate issue which we dealt with in relation to Mr Cormack’s correspondence.
In regard to questions on notice, after all this has been uncovered, example after example of lack of detail, misuse of process and contempt for proceedings, the committee has been criticised by the Chief Minister via the media for asking too many questions. Quite simply, the number of questions is a result of the desire to get information and as a result of the lack of detail, absence of accountability and attitude of contempt that this government has demonstrated to the committee.
We had the statement from Ms Gallagher that it is not up to her to write our questions for us, and that is true. But it is up to her to be open and it is up to us to ask questions. And the criticism of us for asking questions is one of the most laughable critiques of a committee: we were working too hard, we were asking too many questions, we were doing too much. Is he expecting that next year, as a result of this press release, members will not ask questions about the important issues?
Of course, he belittles the local government issues. He belittles the idea that you should be asking questions about local issues. I frankly have no opinion on whether