Page 57 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 27 November 2012
MR HANSON (Molonglo) (12.00): I rise today in support of Mr Smyth’s amendment because ultimately what the committees are about is the scrutiny of government. That is why we have them—be it the health committee, PAC, the education committee or JACS. It is about the opposition or the crossbench scrutinising the government. That is the important part that they play in the Assembly. If you will recall the last Assembly, Madam Speaker, we heard much from the then crossbench, the Greens party, about the importance of the committee system and the importance of the committee system in holding the government to account.
I think it would be no surprise to any of us here that the government would do everything it could to avoid scrutiny. As much as we hear the rhetoric from the Chief Minister about an open and accountable government, we know that what she wants to do, as much as possible, is to limit the ability of this side of the chamber to scrutinise the executive. So what she has done in the motion that has been tabled today is demand the chairs of various committees to avoid scrutiny in the areas of health, education and planning. Unless it is just about handing out lollies to Mr Gentleman, Ms Berry or others then why is it nominated that it must be a government chair? Clearly, it is to avoid scrutiny.
The committee that has the most significant role, arguably, in holding the government to account and scrutinising the government is that of PAC. It is outrageous and it is inappropriate that this committee be nobbled in the way it is. Through you, Madam Speaker, you are not going to get much love from the government on this issue because the government clearly wants to avoid scrutiny, but my plea would be to the crossbench member of the government. He has to make a decision about the way he is portrayed over the next four years—whether he is going to be portrayed simply as a stooge of the Labor Party, as someone who is in bed with the Labor Party to avoid scrutiny, or whether he is actually going to uphold some of the rhetoric, some of the principles, that he espoused as Speaker sitting in that chair throughout the last Assembly. There was much talk about the committee system and much talk about Latimer House principles. We heard a lot from Mr Rattenbury throughout the last Assembly. No doubt there was much talk, and I heard some of it in the media, about the role that he would play and that he would not just be a patsy of the Labor Party.
I would implore Mr Rattenbury to support Mr Smyth’s amendment. Clearly, the government will not because they want to avoid scrutiny. If Mr Rattenbury does not support Mr Smyth’s amendment then what he is essentially saying is, “I am lock, stock in bed with the government. I agree with them because I want to avoid scrutiny as well. The last thing I want is Mr Smyth or someone else actually providing effective scrutiny of this government because I am now so much a part of this government and so much a part of the Labor Party.”
I do not expect the government will support Mr Smyth’s amendment because it has got everything to gain by avoiding scrutiny. We know that this is now a government entering its fourth term and there is much to scrutinise. But I would implore Mr Rattenbury to now say what it is that he is going to stand for. Yes, he is a member of the government. Yes, he is a minister. But he has also put up some principles and today is a test of his credibility. Is he going to be credible when he says, “I’m going to