Page 59 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 27 November 2012
As I said earlier, if you are going to rely on the fact that you have a one vote majority, you had better be prepared to bring those nine votes with you on a regular basis—because, if you are not going to show any level of cooperation to the opposition, you will not be getting any level of cooperation from the opposition.
This is a complete nobbling of this committee. This is undermining the statements that I took at good faith from representatives of this government, and it will see potentially this Assembly become a very difficult place to work in, because it does require cooperation. Every time we come into this place and there is a bill debated, it requires agreement, even just for it to work. Seeking leave, the granting of pairs—all of these things require agreement and goodwill.
The coalition government have said: “It doesn’t matter; we’ve got nine. We don’t need to worry about the other eight. We don’t need to reflect how finely balanced this parliament is. We will do what we like.” That is going to be a very difficult position to sustain. If you vote for this, if you vote against Mr Smyth’s amendment, if you nobble this committee today, what you are saying is: “It doesn’t matter. Nine beats eight. We will do what we like.” You had better be prepared to back that up at every opportunity in this parliament. And, as I said, I think that will make for a very unworkable four years.
MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo—Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Housing, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and Minister for Ageing) (12.10): I simply seek to briefly reflect on my earlier remarks. I think this committee can work. I think there is an opportunity in having four members of this committee for this committee to do a very important job in this Assembly. I share the views of Mr Seselja that this is an important committee for holding the government to account, and I think that is quite possible.
It is less likely to be possible in the context of the series of declarations that Mr Seselja has made about his unwillingness to work collaboratively. I think that is a disconcerting indication on the first day of the new Assembly, and hopefully that will not carry forward into the committee process. I trust that the four members who are nominated to that committee will seek to work effectively together for the betterment of the territory.
I do also note that Mr Smyth gave a speech in which he demonstrated he was quite exercised by this. He said that he received this yesterday afternoon and he was outraged. I note that in the intervening time, all of yesterday afternoon and this morning, I received no approach from Mr Smyth or his colleagues to seek to discuss this. For better or for worse, I have a casting vote. I have indicated to Mr Seselja my willingness to work with the opposition on a whole range of matters across the chamber. I received no approach, and then I noticed that at the last minute Mr Smyth sat across the chamber and scratched out an amendment on an Assembly notepad. That is how exercised he was. There was no approach. There was no discussion. It was a last minute amendment, scratched out on the floor of the chamber, to make a political point, and that is what this needs to be seen as.