Page 4625 - Week 12 - Thursday, 1 November 2018
Recommendations 15 and 16 touch on the Speaker’s workload and the issues that arise from that. It has been my view for a long time that the Speaker does need their own independent advice on the operation of officers of the Legislative Assembly-type legislation, that is, the Auditor-General Act, the Ombudsman Act, the electoral commission Act and now, when this bill passes, this legislation.
Although the Clerk made a recommendation that there should be some authorisation in the legislation to allow the integrity commissioner to provide advice to the Speaker, until the integrity commissioner is established there is no-one in that space to provide advice to the Speaker about the operation of the body. And considering that you, Madam Speaker, will have a substantial and large job of recruitment ahead of you, we also believe that there needs to be another look at how the Speaker is supported in performing statutory roles under the officers of the Assembly legislation. And that is referred to in recommendation 16. I think that that is a very important role and there is a job of work to be done by the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure in that regard.
We had a long discussion about the roles of and the interaction between the integrity commissioner and the Commissioner for Standards, and the committee came to the view that the Commissioner for Standards should not be referred to in legislation because it is not a legislated position. It is established under the standing orders. Recommendations 30, 31 and 32 are about how the Commissioner for Standards and the integrity commissioner might interact and it may be necessary to amend continuing resolution 5AA.
In relation to members’ statements of declaration of interest, the committee took the view that members’ declarations of interest should be a matter that the commissioner can refer to. We originally took the view that that was a pretty straightforward thing because the declaration of interest is published on the Assembly website but we were eventually persuaded that perhaps there need to be specific provisions in the legislation to permit the commissioner to make use of members’ declarations because there has been a case in New South Wales where a member, although it is a published document, claimed parliamentary privilege over the use of that document by the commissioner. We would not want to be in that situation here. We think it just does not pass the pub test.
There are other provisions that are of importance to the Legislative Assembly. We believe that it is important that the inspector, no matter how that inspector is appointed, should be approved by a two-thirds majority of the Assembly. And then there are issues about the relevant committee. The committee took the view that there should be a dedicated committee that deals with the oversight of the integrity commission. I know that that may not be a view that is popular with the Clerk.
We do recognise that in different jurisdictions the oversight committee has differing workloads—and in some jurisdictions they have a much heavier workload than in others—but especially in the early days of the establishment of the integrity commissioner we believe that the committee may have a considerable job of work to do and it is better that that is separated from other committee work.