Page 2487 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 17 June 2009
is made. It is the role of the Assembly to say to the minister, “Why did or did you not take account of certain factors in reaching this decision?” That is why, under the planning act, the minister is obliged to give reasons for his decision and table all the papers in this place. That is why the act is structured in that way. That is why there is the opportunity given to the Assembly to scrutinise these matters.
But the scrutiny occurs when the decision is made, not in anticipation of a decision, because the Assembly can have no idea of what the decision will be and on what grounds it will be made. So the process and the suggestion that scrutiny should occur ahead of the decision is entirely speculative, pre-emptive and an attempt to potentially prejudice the minister’s decision making before he has even fully contemplated and considered the matters before him.
Mr Seselja: No, it’s not—political and frivolous.
MR CORBELL: It is a fundamentally misplaced argument, and we can see how seriously the Leader of the Opposition takes this censure motion. We can see how seriously he takes it.
First of all, the matter was raised in the estimates committee report yesterday. Did he move immediately to protect the privileges and the rights of the Assembly as he sees them? No. Did he move even immediately yesterday? No. Did he move at the first opportunity this morning? No. Did he move immediately at the commencement of question time? No. He decided: “It’s not that important. We will do it after question time.” Now he is not even here. He has not been here for the majority of the debate.
How serious is this bloke when it comes to this censure? He is not serious at all. It is a derisory argument. It is a misplaced and misconceived attack to suggest that what the minister has done is inappropriate. It was entirely appropriate for the minister to draw to the attention of the committee the fact that for him to be called on that matter would pre-empt and prejudice his responsibilities under the planning act.
It is disappointing that the committee, instead of engaging further with the minister on that matter and trying to seek a further understanding of the minister’s reasoning if the committee did not agree with it, simply said: “Right, beauty, got him. We’ll go for a censure motion.” This was a conceived and contrived political tactic—pure and simple. That is all it was.
At the end of the day ministers have responsibilities to make decisions and the Assembly, in one of its roles, scrutinises those decisions. But you cannot scrutinise a decision that has not been made. You cannot inquire into matters that are yet to be determined by a minister but which are being actively determined by the minister. You cannot do those things. It is misconceived to suggest that scrutiny of a non-decision is so fundamental to the operations of the estimates committee. It is misplaced, it is misconceived and the government clearly will not be supporting this motion today.
MR HANSON (Molonglo) (4.10): Madam Assistant Speaker, I was not actually going to speak to this motion today, but, having heard the utterances from those