Page 3804 - Week 12 - Thursday, 24 October 2013
being the Auditor-General. The general tone of the conversation with the Auditor-General, the Chief Minister and the Leader of the Opposition was that if there were conflicts of interest that arose from a member of the public service being considered for the position of Auditor-General, that would be worked out in the consultation process that is necessary before anyone is appointed to those positions.
There were a few issues about the appointment process. I would like to put on the record that I think that it would be a brave Speaker, and I am not that brave, who would appoint someone to one of these positions when it was clearly not the will of the public accounts committee and the wider Assembly. The simple test is this: if I as Speaker appoint someone to one of these positions as an officer of the Legislative Assembly, will that appointment stand up to a motion of disallowance? You would be a crazy brave Speaker to appoint someone knowing that they did not have support across the Assembly, and I am not that crazy brave. From time to time I encourage crazy braveness amongst my colleagues in the Assembly, but not on this occasion.
I think that this is a worthy improvement to the way we do business in the ACT. It is a worthy improvement to the accountability processes in the ACT. At this stage it is a desire for improvement. The real test will come in the setting of the budgets for these statutory office holders to ensure that they have the budgets to do the jobs that are necessary. That will be a test not only for this Assembly but for the executive, to ensure that these organisations are appropriately funded.
I commend the members in this place who have worked on this bill. It will be a good improvement. I hope that the spirit of cooperation that we have seen over this, that I have seen over this, will extend into ensuring that these organisations are appropriately funded and ensuring that the committees who will be advising the Speaker on who should be appointed can work collegially and leave their politics at the door.
One of the things that I am concerned about is that we have seen a lot of deadlocks in committees in this Assembly. There are coming up some important decisions that these committees will have to make in relation to budgets and, in the future, in relation to appointments. I hope that members can leave their politics at the door and look at the budget allocations that are asked for by officers of the Legislative Assembly—look at it dispassionately and give advice and recommendations to the Speaker that can be carried forward for the benefit of scrutiny of what happens in this place and what happens in the executive for the benefit of the people of the ACT.
MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (11.45): I would personally like to thank the Assembly for its in-principle support for this bill and make some general comments before I turn to the specific matters that have been raised in the debate. As a small parliament we are in some ways very fortunate that we have a close working relationship with the organs of government. On the other hand, as a small parliament we necessarily have a limited capacity to scrutinise everything that the government does. What this reality means is that it is vitally important for us to put in place effective structures to assist in ensuring that the executive fulfils its functions according to the laws and values that this Assembly sets for it.