Page 3801 - Week 12 - Thursday, 24 October 2013

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skills or Mr Rattenbury needs to do his homework a bit better. But whatever the problem is in Mr Rattenbury’s office—we know it is certainly funded well enough—they need to do their homework a little bit better so that when their homework comes into this place it does not have to be fixed up by the Chief Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and then Mr Rattenbury, as has happened today. Let’s try and get it right, fellas. That would be much appreciated by all in this place.

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Health and Minister for Higher Education) (11.31): I thank other members for their indulgence at the beginning of this debate.

The government is pleased to support the Officers of the Assembly Legislation Amendment Bill 2013. We think it is an important integrity reform. As members would know, it was contained in the parliamentary agreement for the Eighth Assembly.

In 2012 the Assembly passed the Legislative Assembly (Officers of the Legislative Assembly) Act, providing statutory recognition of the distinct role of the Clerk and the secretariat in the management of the Legislative Assembly. The act expresses the separation of the Legislative Assembly from the executive and the wider ACT public service.

Today this bill will continue on that path towards open and transparent government by upholding the commitment in the parliamentary agreement of the Eighth Assembly to support the establishment of the Auditor-General, Electoral Commissioner and Ombudsman as officers of the Assembly. The Assembly plays a critical role in holding the government to account. The establishment of the Auditor-General, Electoral Commissioner and Ombudsman as officers of the Assembly will enhance their ability to operate independently and be characterised as a function of the legislature rather than the executive.

I would say that to a great degree this enshrines in legislation what already occurs in a practical sense. I think all of the officers of the parliament, or those who will be officers of the parliament, officers of the Assembly—the Ombudsman, the Auditor-General and the Electoral Commissioner—act independently and are responsive to all members of the ACT Assembly, but this makes it very clearly enshrined in legislation.

I think there will be some issues to resolve with the Speaker as we implement this legislation to make sure it functions as it is intended, particularly around budget settings and how that process is to be managed.

In terms of the process and the concerns that Mr Hanson has raised around executive members business, if you take the logic of Mr Hanson’s argument and apply it across the board, you would not have any private members’ business, any private members’ legislation, coming to the Assembly, because presumably the resources available to other non-executive members in this place do not have the full support of the processes available to the government. If that is the major weakness, I guess we do not expect to see any legislation coming forward from the opposition during this term of parliament.

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