Page 496 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 15 February 2017

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MR COE (Yerrabi—Leader of the Opposition) (3.47): The opposition is, of course, disappointed that the Greens are also happy to politicise the public service in this way. I thought it was an honest mistake in the agreement that perhaps had not been fully thought through. Perhaps in their negotiation they thought that someone like the Head of Service was a reasonable person to have as an arbiter of the progress being made. Perhaps they had not fully thought through how this would, in fact, be politicising an individual and putting them, I think, in a very awkward position. However, having given the government an opportunity to get out of this today, I thought they would take it. I thought the Greens as a party would take this opportunity to say, “Perhaps the Head of Service is not the best person.”

It just so happens that in the previous two Assemblies they have not had this clause in the agreement. This is the first time that the public service has been involved with this parliamentary agreement. I accept that the matters contained within the document will become the agenda for the government. But the document itself predates the government. The document itself actually helped form the government. The document itself is an agreement between Labor and the Greens. That is why this document is not on the Chief Minister’s website. That is why in past Assemblies we have not been able to ask questions about the document. We have only been able to ask questions about the individual initiatives contained therein as they relate to the government actually implementing them.

We have, I think, a bad development with regard to the status of this document. Will this document now be uploaded to the government website? Do the Greens really think that it is appropriate for the Head of Service to come in and brief Labor and Greens MLAs about the progress of this document—not on government policies but on the progress of the agreement? I think that is totally wrong. Is the opposition going to be extended the same briefing, given this is a taxpayer resource? How is it that the Labor and Greens members can sign a document which allocates the resources of the Head of Service for party political purposes?

I think it is absolutely wrong that we are going to have members in this place uphold part X of this agreement, which clearly politicises the Head of Service. Part XI, which demonstrates how the document is to be amended, of course, shows just how partisan political this document is. I expect that this document will now go on the government website. We will also be able to ask questions of it in estimates because the Head of Service and the public service are accountable for it now as well. We look forward to also being able to ask questions in the Assembly as well, because it is now inherently a government document. This is a bad moment for the differentiation between governments and parties. The government and the Greens must accept that there will be consequences with regard to the opportunities the opposition has open to it as a result of this decision.

Question put:

That the amendment be agreed to.

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