Page 570 - Week 02 - Thursday, 19 February 2015
raised in the Review, with a concern being raised that with an equally balanced Assembly (both major parties have 8 members) equal representation on committees reduces their effectiveness in holding the Executive to account, or in pursuing investigations that might raise concerns for the government of the day.
But the review went on to say further:
It must however be recognised that it is in no way exceptional for parliament committees in any parliamentary system to reflect the composition of the chamber.
Indeed, the committee concluded:
It would be unusual in the extreme to see a committee system dominated by non-government members who could theoretically establish a de-facto alternative government to the one with the confidence of the parliament. In the ACT’s balanced committees it is possible for the non-government members of committees to provide dissenting reports for consideration of the Assembly and to publicly raise concerns with committee processes.
That is the conclusion of the independent review of Latimer House principles: it is not unusual or extraordinary for committees to represent the composition of the parliament as a whole. Indeed, the review’s conclusions are that it would be “unusual in the extreme to see a committee system dominated by non-government members”.
What the Chief Minister proposes is not unusual. It is reasonable, it reflects the composition of the parliament, and it allows for this important scrutiny function to get underway.
MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (10.55): I will be supporting Mr Barr’s amendment. We have had this debate several times now—we have it at this time each year and it feels a little like groundhog day—but it reflects the debate we have had on previous occasions: with an eight-eight balance in the Assembly, this is an appropriate way to proceed.
It is clear the opposition will have the chair of the committee, as is appropriate, and I have commented on that before. Mr Hanson gave quite a dissertation—one we have heard him give before—but he fails to acknowledge that the balance of the committee in previous years has not curtailed the opposition members saying exactly what they want to say. That is the truth of this matter. The opposition members on that committee have been able to ask any questions they want of government and write whatever they want in the report. His observations that somehow this is a curtailing of scrutiny of government simply do not hold water. He is simply crying wolf. There is no basis in fact in the observations Mr Hanson has made, and it is embarrassing that he continues to make them despite the clear evidence to the contrary.
MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (10.56): Mr Rattenbury points out that apparently things have been working well. The Chief Minister, in his surly and aggressive response, said it has all been politicised, it is not working properly and this is somehow a sneaky