Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 10 June 2009
Parliamentary Record 6
Debates for 11th Assembly 2008 - 2012; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 11th Assembly 2008 - 2012
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Wednesday 10 June 2009 3121 this. It is a difficult time. It has left me thinking about many things relating to how workable the parliament will be over the next few years with a minority government. It is something I did not expect to have to worry about a couple of weeks ago ... Mr Elferink: A week is a long time in politics. Mr WOOD: Yes, a week is a very long time in politics. I am coming to terms with new issues. However, as I have said before, parliament is not a toy. It is something I have to make sure that I look after, if you can put it in those terms, because it is a serious matter how we run the workings of democracy in the Northern Territory. Much as I understand the principles the member for Port Darwin has put in his debate today Mr ELFERINK: A point of order, Madam Speaker! In case he needs it, I move that the member be given an extension of time, pursuant to Standing Order 77. Motion agreed to. Mr WOOD: Much obliged. Thank you, Madam Speaker. I was not watching the clock; I was trying to think of what I was saying. This probably reflects on the difficulty of this debate. With the assurances that the government has given, though I do not believe they are perfect, they are at least a good start. I will support this motion, if for only one thing: for good governance, from the point of view that we have to get the budget through, and we have to get the estimates done. What happens after that? Let us see. Hopefully, the Standing Orders Committee can develop some guidelines and processes that will help us through this stage, because it is important. I also have to put my two bobs worth in as an Independent. I treasure my opportunity to be on the Estimates Committee. People think you are a glutton for punishment, and sometimes it is very difficult being on an Estimates Committee, but I find it one of the most important parts of being in parliament. It is a very important part of parliament; it provides an opportunity that I would not have at any other time to question ministers and departmental heads, and it also allows the public to hear about the important things that are being done by government, good or bad. It gives an opportunity for the government to put their point of view out there as well. It may not be perfect, but we have to pass the budget and it has to pass it through the Estimates Committee and, after that, let us see what happens. Ms CARNEY (Araluen): Madam Speaker, I had proposed to speak on this prior to the member for Nelson before lunch but, as luck would have it, I am glad it panned out the way it did, because there are some further comments I would like to make, based on those made by the member for Nelson. Backtracking somewhat, I reiterate the concerns of the members for Port Darwin and Fong Lim, and those of the opposition as a whole; in particular, the perception that Territorians will have of the Public Accounts Committee. It is fair to say that the PAC is the most important parliamentary committee that we have, and for the government to be so shabbily tinkering with it almost beggars belief. I do not say for a moment that the matter does not involve some thought. I thought, however, that the government would have given it the thought and attention it deserves, rather than cobbling together what it says is the only answer. There are some other ways to go. One way is to have two government members, two opposition members, and two Independent members. Another way is to reduce the number of ministers. The member for Barkly, with great respect to him, by any measure, is not the busiest minister in the Cabinet. Corrections and Justice were split several months ago, and I believe he has something else, Transport which, until recently, someone else had that as well. This demonstrates - they are two things off the top of my head - that the government has not given this matter the sort of attention it should. It has also been shabby that the opposition has not been consulted in any way, shape or form, about what the government considers is a difficulty. We were not consulted, as I understand it, before notice was given yesterday of the motion. I withdraw that. We were consulted, but I understand that very little discussion was entered into. It is also my understanding, that over the luncheon adjournment, while the member for Nelson discussed it with, I believe, the Deputy Chief Minister or the Leader of Government Business, the opposition was not involved in those discussions, although we did speak with the member for Nelson after he had his discussions with the government. With respect to the member for Nelson, bully for him for securing what he sees as concessions. But a backroom deal might work in the Labor Party, but it should not really be the bread and butter of the parliament of the Northern Territory. The parliament should formally record the concessions and they should be a part of this motion. I believe that is good and common sense.
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