Page 4398 - Week 14 - Thursday, 28 November 2013
Standing orders 251 and 252 remain as is. They relate to dissenting reports and the signing of reports. If we are going to have this farce of committees which are just two and two, which may never agree on anything, and if the government does not want to move back to the tradition that has always been in this place of committees representing the government, the opposition and the crossbench—acknowledging that there is limited crossbench ability to be on committees—we have to have a process forward, otherwise we are going to be coming back time and time again, as we already have, over this.
I point members to 2004-2008 when the government actually had a majority. It could have stacked all the committees, but it did not. The committee system worked much better between 2004-08 then it is currently working now. When I heard that Dr Bourke was going to bring his standing order amendment on, I had a re-look at it. I thought that it did not actually solve the problems. That is why I have put together this other look at what might happen in committees.
Madam Speaker, I commend my motion to the house. I understand the process now is that someone will adjourn debate on both of the motions. Then I will move to send both motions off to the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure, which is the normal process.
MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations and Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development) (11.27): Briefly, I note the views of Mr Smyth and others on the other side who assert that the government is seeking to nobble the committee system. Nothing could be further from the truth. The facts are that for the first time in the history of the Legislative Assembly, I think, the crossbench is not able to participate in the committee system, with the exception of the administration and procedure committee. So this is a first. Traditionally, the Assembly has had a non-executive crossbench who are able to populate the membership of committees and therefore provide for balance between the two major parties.
This Assembly breaks that mould. Mr Rattenbury, given his decision to accept appointment to the executive, and as the only member of the crossbench, is therefore not able to participate in committees. So we are left with a result where there are only Labor and Liberal members on committees.
This is further compounded by the very unusual circumstance that has not arisen before in this place, either, where both sides of the house have equal membership. So these are extraordinary circumstances and the committee system is having to adapt to those circumstances.
Dr Bourke in his proposed amendment to the standing orders I think seeks to identify a sensible way forward to address these problems of potential deadlock in committees. It is right that the committees, broadly, represent the membership of this place as a whole. That is why the government has said that, in its view, membership of the