Page 2829 - Week 08 - Thursday, 11 August 2016

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We will have to wait and see who is right.

It will not surprise me if the Speaker of the next Assembly in the next budget round needs to address resourcing and capacity issues that likely will require additional funding. Indeed, it is possible that, depending on the decisions taken by the Ninth Assembly about sitting hours, the operation of committees and so forth, there may need to be budget supplementation before the end of the financial year. Of course, OLA will cut its cloth to match the available funding but the prospect of additional complexity and workload pressures, and I think OLA will encounter both, will necessitate another look at the arguments that were advanced in support of extra funding sought during this budget round.

I appreciate that the government of the day will always have many competing priorities. I also appreciate that the role of executive government is to give those priorities their due ranking and associated funding. It is the role of this place to approve or reject them. However, members well know that OLA and the two officers of the Legislative Assembly in receipt of specific appropriations sit outside that remit. Institutionally, strategically and operationally they are separate from executive government.

The Assembly has legislated the independence of OLA and the officers of the Legislative Assembly. As such they are firmly within the ambit of the legislative branch of government in this territory. This statutory arrangement is consistent with building the capacity and strength of the Assembly so that it is able to exercise appropriate checks and balances on the executive. That is what we are here for. It is consistent with the commonwealth’s Latimer House principles on the three branches of government adopted by this Assembly in 2008.

Now, eight years on, I was encouraged by the results of OLA’s recent survey of members of the current and the Seventh Assembly in relation to their understanding and appreciation of Latimer House principles. Thirty-three per cent of members responded. Of those, 75 per cent agreed that the Latimer House principles were either very important or somewhat important. Eighty-five per cent agreed or strongly agreed with the proposition that parliamentary procedures should provide adequate mechanisms to enforce the accountability of the executive to the parliament.

Respondents also overwhelmingly supported the proposition that the Assembly should play a large role in the development of its own budget, with 87 per cent of members responding. These views came from members both executive and non-executive from across the political spectrum.

I would like to start a serious reform conversation about how to build on the steps we have already taken to strengthen the Assembly’s independence by giving the institution a greater say in its funding.

The self-government act establishes some constraints on the executive’s financial initiative but this does not preclude the Assembly developing a political and institutional consensus, a convention perhaps, allowing it to play a more authentic,

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