Debates Day 4 - Friday 23 June 2006
Parliamentary Record 8
Debates for 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Friday 23 June 2006 2643 well. It certainly put the ministers in a very difficult position because it was the opposition standing on this side and the minister on that side. I observed from where the member for Brennan is sitting now, that the minister would stand there and the advisors were sitting over there and the questions were fired one after the other. It was the minister who had to give an account. There will be, of course, deeper memories, or longer term memories on the other side now that carry across from this side to that side, and I will say that there are flaws with that, possibly. It is not to say that there are no flaws with the current system. There are some benefits with the current system, but if we were able to have greater time to use and to spread the process out - we talked about this in the last couple of proceedings, where some practical suggestions were put forward to ensure that we do cover, or are given the opportunity to cover all areas, and not try to jam it all in four days. There may be a process that we could put in place where we do not place such pressure on the whole exercise to try and just tick it off. There may be ways that we could creatively consider where we ensure question in areas that have been neglected time and time again. You may not appreciate it, but the fact is, some of these issues do take some time to unpack, and it takes a line of questioning to get where you are going. The truth is that the minister often knows where you are trying to get, and will be blocking cleverly all along the way. You cannot just ask a question and have an answer, and be efficient and tick that one off. It would be nice if you could ask questions like, How well are you going, Oh really well, thanks, let me tell you all about it, and tick that off. We do not have that task. That is not our responsibility. Dorothy dixers serve that purpose. Our job is to actually ask some of the harder questions that government hopes we do not ask - the things that we may know about, that government knows about but would prefer we did not know about, but citizens demand us to be able to prosecute that particular line. Therefore, it does take some time. It is not just a clever little phrase to say, Oh manage your time. I am not saying that we are clean on this side, but there are ways that we could improve. The final point I would wish to make is in reference to the drama that was occurring as a backdrop to estimates. It was something I will remember for as long as I am in this Chamber, to go up to my office and to turn the television on to see what was on, and to see Lateline. I saw a senior indigenous woman sitting back in the chair with tears rolling down her face. I saw the subtitles, and she said, my spirit weeps, and you felt the grief that was giving rise to tears that flowed down her face. I thought that, in the proceedings that we have just been through, that if the real purpose of this is not reflecting the pain behind those tears, and the pain behind those who have need within our community, then it is pointless. That sits as a permanent reminder to members, that that should focus our hearts and minds on what this is really about, so that if we cannot find a means to reduce that flow of tears and ease that pain ultimately, it is a pointless exercise a shallow and an empty one at that. I thought that was quite an amazing backdrop to these whole proceedings. To me, it underscores our role and our purpose, and it was a very potent reminder to every member here to remember that this is about something far greater than our political points that may be scored, something that transcends an electoral cycle, and something that must reach out and make a difference to someone far from this place. I hope that as we continue on as members, mature in the process, that there will come a time when we could ease that burden and to restrict that flow of tears. Mr KIELY: Mr Acting Chairman, I thank all members for their contributions. It was a pretty good four days; it was pretty intensive. All the ministers did a fabulous job making themselves available and open to all lines of questioning. I would like to pick up on some of the things that some of our members said. First off, the Leader of Opposition, when she said that she picked up on four themes. I only picked up on one on her, and that was spite. It was just about through every piece of interrogation that she did. She got two years of sporting colloquialism, she got off playing the ball and started playing the man. It is just not the way to go. However, I will say that all of us here are here of our own free will, we are all elected members, we all stood up and we all take a bit of a slap in the public every now and then for different things. However, our public servants are not. They are not there to be attacked. There were quite a number of occasions where I saw public servants sitting at the table, trying to assist the minister, to provide responses to the concise questions put forward by opposition, only to be attacked for their efforts. That is not the way to go. I would like to put on the record that I apologise to those public servants who suffered that embarrassment. It reflects poorly on all of us as politicians that they should have been forced into that position. I will also take a bit of a slap myself because, as Chairman, I should have been on it harder. If I am Chairman next year, I will be. This certainly will be one thing that I will not tolerate. If I am not Chairman, I ask whoever takes up the baton next year for them to not tolerate such behaviour. It
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