Page 56 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 27 November 2012
from both the government and the opposition does reflect the particular importance of the public accounts committee, and that is what I said earlier—the particular importance—because, unlike the other standing committees that focus on a particular portfolio, PAC and scrutiny of bills, the justice committee performing its scrutiny of bills function, look across portfolios and across all functions of government. It is a particular importance attached to these committees.
When it comes to the public accounts committee, it is important to reflect on the fact that it has a significant workload. Every Auditor-General’s report, looking at every part of the government’s operations and functions, goes to PAC. It is a very important committee and there is no doubting that from the government’s perspective. The provision of the membership cuts both ways. It is interesting that Mr Smyth only sees it in terms of control and whether or not he gets his way on the committee.
The fact is a membership of four will require the committee to work together. There will have to be an attempt made, particularly by the chair, if it is Mr Smyth, to win the support of a majority of the committee to get the committee to do its work effectively. That will require give and take on the part of all the members of the committee. That is what the government is saying when it comes to the particularly important role that the PAC plays—that there will have to be give and take, that there will have to be a willingness to compromise on the part of all members to get effective decisions from the committee.
I must say it does not bode well, given the comments that Mr Smyth has made this morning but, as the Chief Minister has said, this is the Assembly that the people of Canberra have voted for and it is incumbent on all of us to engage in a constructive and collaborative manner in the committee system. We hear arguments from those opposite: “Well, you know, it’s disproportionate, there are eight members over there and eight non-executive members over there and only four non-executive members on this side the chamber.”
The point should be made, of course, that in other parliaments the shadow ministry does not participate in the committee system. Let us just recognise up front that we deal with a hybrid system here in this place. Let us just recognise up front that if we want to be pure about it then every one of you that holds a shadow portfolio should not be on an Assembly committee. But that has never been the practice in this place. So let us just have regard to that when we look at the so-called arguments about balance and representation. Let us just remember that in this debate. It is important that we reflect on the fact that it will be incumbent on all members to seek to collaborate and work together on this committee in particular, as it is in relation to every committee. That will certainly be the spirit, I am sure, that government members will bring to this committee.
MADAM SPEAKER: The question is that Mr Smyth’s amendment be agreed to. Before we proceed to Mr Hanson—this is not a reflection on you, Mr Corbell—I did notice in the debate that was going on when I was upstairs that I really need to remind members that when they are debating they should keep in mind standing order 42, that they address the Speaker and that they not address members on the opposite side of the chamber.