Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 14 Hansard (Thursday, 30 November 2017) . . Page.. 5476 ..
We in this chamber should be concerned. They say that perception is reality. So when a number of Canberrans feel that those who are responsible for providing external scrutiny in this territory are too entangled in and too obligated to the government to perform their functions, then we have a problem.
Such concerns were raised earlier this year by Mr Bill Bashford, who pointed out that, as one of the government’s official visitors for children and young people, his job required him to report directly to the very same directorate that supposedly he was independently monitoring, creating a serious conflict of interest. The simple solution, as I see it, is to remove any possibility of suspicion. Mrs Jones’s amendments seek specifically to do this.
Protecting the integrity of the inspector’s selection by requiring broader consultation with and scrutiny from a standing committee just makes sense. Making this officeholder’s selection the responsibility of the full Assembly and not just the executive is a prudent move. A government that refuses to allow for this broad scrutiny and consultation inevitably appears as if it has something to hide.
Already the Legislation Act requires that a minister, before making statutory appointments, must consult with a standing committee and await their recommendation. I should think this government would wish to avoid the appearance of a political appointment at all costs. Why should this important appointment be treated any differently?
We live in a day and age when, according to those who measure such things, cynicism towards government is increasing. Citizens worry about hidden agendas and policy moves that look like elaborate defence mechanisms designed to protect those who sit in positions of power. Sensible governments that remain in touch with ordinary citizens understand that they must take steps to dampen such fears.
Wise governments happily put into place robust mechanisms that demonstrate their commitment to fairness and independence of oversight. Anything else looks and feels wrong to so many of those who have spoken to me over the course of the past year. We have personally witnessed what can go wrong when external oversight is not robust enough. I encourage this government to be both sensible and wise. I commend to this Assembly the amendments that Mrs Jones will move.
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong—Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Minister for Justice, Consumer Affairs and Road Safety, Minister for Corrections and Minister for Mental Health) (6.06), in reply: I am pleased to speak in support of the Inspector of Correctional Services Bill, and I welcome members’ support for the creation of this very important position.
It is worth noting at the start of my remarks that the Moss review did not actually recommend the inspectorate of custodial services; it recommended that the Ombudsman review all critical incidents. But I formed the view that it was better to go beyond that recommendation and go past what the Moss review recommended to create the inspectorate. The Human Rights Commissioner has recommended the inspectorate model and it has come up in earlier discussions, and it seemed an even