Territory Stories

Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 May 1995



Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 May 1995

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Parliamentary Record 11


Debates for 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Tuesday 23 May 1995 believe the only dispute between us is whether the Ombudsman ought to have the authority to second-guess. Bear in mind that, while the present Ombudsman has legal qualifications, it is not a requirement under the Ombudsman (Northern Territory) Act that the Ombudsman be a lawyer, let alone as eminent a lawyer as we expect the DPP to be. It would be placing that power in the hands of a person who may not have the skills and qualifications to second-guess decisions about whether or not to prosecute. M r Bell: Not second-guessing. M r PERRON: If you allow the Ombudsman full tote odds, it means that he can go into the DPP system and say that he has reviewed a decision to prosecute and believes it to be a mistake. He can accuse the DPP of acting unjustly to poor citizens who have been dragged through the court. He can pass an opinion, probably before the case has been heard, that the prosecution is likely to fail thereby causing people terrible inconvenience and causing a waste of money as witnesses fly all over the place. What kind of skills and knowledge does an Ombudsman have to be enable him or her to make those kinds of judgments? There are others who can criticise the DPP and ask him for information. Certainly, he can be criticised in this House for the decisions he has made, particularly if they involve the wasting of taxpayers money and mucking people around. If he has a string of failed prosecutions, he will be in trouble. He does not need the Ombudsman to crack the whip around his ears. M r Bell: I do not think that is a good example. M r PERRON: I will move to the Ombudsman (Northern Territory) Act itself. Members are saying that what we are doing here is appalling, and that we are proscribing through regulation an area of purview of the Ombudsman. However, a section in the existing act allows exactly for that. Section 32 of the Ombudsman (Northern Territory) Act provides that the Administrator may make regulations, in particular providing for and in relation to the exemption of the whole or any part of a department or authority from the application of this act. I could withdraw this bill and avoid tonights squabble. Under the current act, we could pass a regulation, through the Administrator, providing that the Department of Lands, Housing and Local Government, for example, is not subject to the Ombudsmans scrutiny. We could do that quite legitimately. The regulation would come before the House through the Subordinate Legislation and Tabled Papers Committee, and no doubt we would get stick for that. It can apply to any part of any agency. We could say that we did not want the whole of the Department of Lands, Housing and Local Government under scrutiny - simply the building inspectors and surveyors or whatever. M r Ede: Yes, but this is different. This is a class of action. M r PERRON: Yes, and I am coming to why we are adding to it. At the moment, we have the power to exclude an entire statutory authority or department or part thereof. We have not abused that. The provision has been in the act as long as we have had an Ombudsman in the Northern Territory. We have never stated that a certain area of government could not be looked at because it was too hot for the 3589