Page 268 - Week 01 - Thursday, 29 November 2012

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I think it is a bit rich to come in here, having all last term said, “Actually, we think we should go back to the two-hour lunch break,” and now just make a cheap political point because it suits their current political narrative. I think we can do a little better.

MR HANSON (Molonglo) (10.52): As the manager of government business alluded to, I was at the original meeting when this was discussed, and I expressed on behalf of the opposition our concern with the sitting pattern as it is proposed, both the proposed dates for estimates—and I will deal with that issue first—and the fact that it only contains 13 weeks.

In regard to the sitting dates for estimates, it is only a guide. To have it in the week following the budget sitting, which is a very busy week, does not necessarily leave time for the committee and the opposition to properly engage with the community. For community groups, who are often the first people to appear before an estimates committee, it does not necessarily give them the time to absorb all the details contained within the budget.

Obviously the government have had all the lead-up through their processes to discuss it in some detail. Certainly it is a matter for the committee to determine what those dates are, but I foreshadow that from the opposition’s point of view normally more time would be given—certainly a week free following the full sitting week, so it would probably be the week after. That is certainly a matter for the committee. Any vote today, whether we vote for or against various matters, should not indicate that the opposition gives agreement to that draft proposal.

When it comes to the sittings, Mr Rattenbury just said that this is all about cheap political point scoring and so on. But we now have a minister whose first acts in this place as part of the government seem to be longer lunches, shorter sittings on a Wednesday to curtail important business from non-executive members, and to have less sittings.

It is incongruous that we have a government and a Greens party who are advocating more members in this place, saying how busy they are as ministers, and the government is saying that they are going to be looking at increasing the size of the executive, which has some merit, that we need 25 members, or we need whatever the number is—certainly the Chief Minister is advocating 25 members—but at the same time they are reducing the amount of work that we do. I do not understand that.

Some of their actions the other day when it came to committees reduced the amount of scrutiny of this place. Why is it that this government are trying to curtail it? There are two logical explanations. Firstly, they are lazy. That could be quite a plausible explanation—that they have better things to do. Perhaps they want to duck away for drinks before the parliament rises. Maybe that is part of it—that they want to sit less because it interferes with their social engagements. That certainly is a plausible explanation and is one that perhaps has some relevance given the events of yesterday.

Perhaps what this is about is further restricting the ability of the opposition to perform its very important role of scrutiny of the government. There is no question that the

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