Page 3803 - Week 12 - Thursday, 24 October 2013

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

As Mr Rattenbury has said, this bill had its genesis in some work that was done initially by the public accounts committee and then by the administration and procedures committee in the previous Assembly. I was on that committee for some of the inquiry; Mr Hanson moved onto the committee towards the conclusion of that inquiry. The inquiry recommended the introduction of officers of the parliament, now to be called officers of the Legislative Assembly.

As the Speaker, I have taken an active role in discussions about this legislation in a way that I have not on other legislation that has passed through this place since I became Speaker. That is because in a sense the buck stops with me. If this legislation works or does not work, it will come down to me and my responsibility and the responsibility of the individual organisations involved.

I have explored the financial implications of some of these things with some of those officers and with the staff of the Legislative Assembly. They are not great, but I have flagged with the Chief Minister that from time to time it may be necessary for me, as the person who finally appoints these officers of the parliament, to do professional searches for new auditors-general and electoral commissioners in particular, and that would be a financial impost on the Office of the Legislative Assembly which we do not currently have provision for. It is not an immediate problem, but it is one that I have flagged with the Chief Minister. It is not something that the Office of the Legislative Assembly can absorb within its own finances.

I have also flagged with the Chief Minister that I would like to discuss a better way of dealing with both the budget of the Office of the Legislative Assembly and the budget of the officers of the Legislative Assembly: perhaps the budget templates might be different and reflect that these are independent statutory office holders who are not implementing government policy but are working on behalf of the people of the ACT. I have also been advocating that the Speaker might be the advocate for these officers in budget cabinet, as has been the practice in the past when previous Speakers have been able to advocate for the Legislative Assembly budget in budget cabinet.

This is a work in progress. I welcome the spirit in which this work has been undertaken. I have had a few reservations about some of the things which are legislated. Some of them, I realise, are a matter of personal taste and therefore are not relevant. The one that gives me most concern is that we are legislating in the area of making the Ombudsman an officer of the parliament. I think that that is problematic, because the Ombudsman is already a servant of two masters. I suppose in a sense he will become a servant of two slightly different masters, or at least one slightly different master. But I think that there is a problem there and I personally would have been more comfortable if we did not legislate in that space until the ACT appointed its own ombudsman. But I see that there is a will in the Assembly that the current Ombudsman and the current arrangement be incorporated into this, and I will do my utmost to ensure that it works smoothly.

The other area I was most concerned about, and my concern was reflected by the current Auditor-General, was that there were provisions that excluded current serving public servants or people who had served in the last two years as public servants from

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video