Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 3 May 2011) . . Page.. 1680 ..
I think that these are important questions to consider as we test out whether this model can work. What is the best way for it to work? What is the best way for non-executive members of the Assembly to ensure that their proposed amendments receive suitable examination by the scrutiny committee, which I think we have all agreed is appropriate and a good idea. In view of the balance of the Assembly, it is, of course, possible for non-executive members to pass amendments. Today is a good illustration of that.
I think that is a positive for this Assembly, but it does put pressure on us to also ensure that the scrutiny committee is given a suitable opportunity to examine these proposed amendments. I think that is beneficial because the private members of the Assembly do not have the access to the government departments that the executive has. Whilst we are given good support by parliamentary counsel, I think that the opportunity to go to the scrutiny committee is a good one. It is certainly one that my colleagues, the Greens, and I will continue to avail ourselves of when it is appropriate.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (11.24): I welcome the opportunity to make some comments on the issues raised by Mr Rattenbury. I am heartily aware that the trial process proposed by the scrutiny committee was for 14 days. Mr Rattenbury did note that I made comments this morning in the tabling of the scrutiny report about the 14-day process. I was happy to do so.
It is important to note that I was at fault by not actually meeting those 14-day requirements. It is not a matter that is only open to the chair of the scrutiny committee. I think it is somewhat disrespectful to suggest that I exercised some sort of persuasion on the committee which was untoward. I think that the committee is quite flexible in dealing with these matters of amendments coming before the committee.
I note that the scrutiny committee and its advisers are very open to receiving amendments when they arise. The scrutiny committee is aware that sometimes the time frames on that are quite short. The scrutiny committee has taken the view, and I agree with this, that it is better that there is some scrutiny rather than none, and that was the approach taken on this occasion.
The adviser to the scrutiny committee was happy to assist the committee in providing comments, even at short notice. On this occasion—these matters have been proposed in various forms, by the Greens and in two versions of these amendments by the Canberra Liberals, which essentially are the same thing; there has been quite a deal of backwards and forwards—it was felt that this matter could be dealt with expeditiously, and that was the case.
We also discussed the fact that we had set ourselves and members a desirable time frame of 14 days, and we would like as much as possible to stick to that. However, as matters come before the Assembly at a time which is not necessarily of the choosing of the opposition and crossbench members, we have taken the view that we will be as flexible as possible in trying to address those amendments in the context of the terms of reference of the scrutiny committee.