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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 25 March 2010) . . Page.. 1553 ..

One of the obligations created by the Latimer House principles is for each branch of government to respect the proper roles, responsibilities and accountabilities of the other. Just as it would be inappropriate for the executive to interfere in the operation of the courts, there are proper limitations on the Assembly’s powers over the executive. The government recognises the vital role that other agencies play in upholding the quality of governance in the ACT, for instance, the Auditor-General, the Ombudsman, the Human Rights Commission and the Electoral Commission. We welcome the scrutiny of these bodies and reaffirm that their independence of operation is unquestioned. The government notes, however, that funding of these bodies rightly falls within the framework of the whole-of-government budgetary process, consistent with the self-government act.

In the ACT we are justifiably proud of our standard of governance. We can be proud of our independent institutions and the healthy tension that exists between the three branches of government. We are not a jurisdiction whose processes are compromised and unaccountable. Our judiciary is independent and respected. The executive and the legislature work through a tension that provides for balanced governance in the territory.

In the ACT, our standard of governance reflects our position as a mature democracy and our accountability measures reflect this maturity. Whilst the Latimer House principles uphold crucial tenets of democracy which we are right to codify, they also set out detailed guidelines that are less relevant in the ACT context. If the Latimer House principles seek to codify that which the Commonwealth of Nations should have in common, they also highlight the significant diversity of governance arrangements and human rights standards amongst commonwealth jurisdictions.

For countries with emerging democratic traditions, the Latimer House principles comprise not only a statement of aspirations but also a guide for implementing democratic processes and the rule of law. In the ACT, we are fortunate that such processes are an entrenched part of our governance. We uphold and realise these aspirations day to day.

In the government’s view, endorsement of the Latimer House principles in the territory recognises the standard which in many, if not most, respects we already meet. Nevertheless, the Latimer House principles are significant because they encourage jurisdictions like ours to reinforce those mechanisms that help maintain an accountable, honest system. They recognise a standard against which we must continue to measure ourselves.

As a government, we are fortunate to serve a citizenry which is particularly engaged with the decisions we make, the services we deliver and the way we connect with the community. The government has developed consultation mechanisms, especially surrounding major government decisions and legislation, to ensure the best democratic outcomes for the community. In addition, we are expanding our model of citizen-centred governance which allows citizens to contribute at all stages of government process. Such engagement best reflects the government’s approach of achieving a balance between effectively delivering the services expected of us and

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