Page 569 - Week 02 - Thursday, 19 February 2015

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Nice try, Mr Smyth, to stack the committee, but the government will not be supporting any attempt from the Canberra Liberals to politicise the estimates process even more than it has, particularly under the leadership of this shadow treasurer and this Leader of the Opposition.

In relation to the matter of substance, the committee should have two members of the opposition and two members from the government. There is no way that a three-member opposition committee would provide in any way a fair or objective assessment of the territory’s budget. I do not anticipate that from the two opposition members anyway, and I put that on the record now. We know what to expect. This amendment to provide for an evenly balanced committee will at least give some hope of proper scrutiny of the territory’s annual budget, but I am not holding my breath.

MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (10.50): I am disappointed by the Chief Minister’s words that this is a stack and somehow improper. I refer the Chief Minister to the Clerk’s advice that was provided with regard to the balance of members on committees. That was provided to me and I have tabled it previously in this place. In accordance with the Latimer House principles, committees should have a balance of non-government members. Mr Smyth’s motion reflects that; it reflects the Latimer House principles. Let us be very clear: based on that advice from the Clerk about the balance being non-government members, Mr Smyth is endeavouring to follow the Clerk’s advice and the Latimer House principles and it is Mr Barr’s amendment that seeks to shut down scrutiny of this government and make sure this committee, as we have seen with so many other committees, is restricted from carrying out its purpose—that is, to scrutinise the government, in this case through the government’s budget appropriation.

Let us not have this high and mighty sneering from the Chief Minister; let us acknowledge what Mr Barr is doing with this amendment. Once again, he is seeking to shut down scrutiny of the executive and his budget. I would be disappointed if Mr Rattenbury, the ex-champion of Latimer House principles—the former Speaker who introduced the Latimer House principles, the man who has always said, “Let’s follow the Latimer House principles, unless they impinge on me, guv”—does not accept the Clerk’s advice and the Latimer House principles and accepts this amendment from Mr Barr that is simply aimed at closing down scrutiny.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Capital Metro) (10.52): I note the concerns raised by the Leader of the Opposition in relation to the composition of the committee proposed by the Chief Minister. I simply make the point that the composition is neither unusual nor unfair; it reflects the balance of members in this place. I draw the attention of the Leader of the Opposition to the report on the implementation of Latimer House principles in the ACT undertaken by the University of Canberra and commissioned by the Speaker. In particular, I draw his attention to the conclusions reached on the composition of Assembly committees:

The ACT Assembly has a well-established committee system, including the Public Accounts Committee. Issues of committee structure and membership were

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