Debates Day 4 - Tuesday 9 May 2017
Parliamentary Record 5
Debates for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2018; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020
pp 1623 to 1686
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Tuesday 9 May 2017 1663 beforehand to do some groundwork and make sure the right people are coming to community consultations on legislation. That is some food for thought as we go forward with the role of education officer. We do not have a big parliament. Queensland has that luxury and can have a broader education program, but it is something for us to keep in mind. One of the main things I found while I was a member of this committee related to the processes of passage of legislation in this House. The proposals in the select committees report are about giving time to consider the legislation in detail. One of the most important things is that it can then be looked at by people outside this parliament. I acknowledge the work of the departments in developing legislation. They talk to the stakeholders in their remit. Departments have long histories of engagement with stakeholders. Sometimes there is legislation that has unintended consequences. That is the important thing we want to pick up on before the passage of the legislation. Some legislation will go through quickly, but more complex legislation that will potentially affect people in remote communitieswe talk a lot about how many of our communities are remote and how difficult it is to provide services to them. It is exactly the same with legislation and how difficult it is for people to truly understand what we are doing in this House. Through the proposed changes there is an opportunity for us to take that legislation out. The responsibility will fall on committees to take the legislation out of this House and talk to people on the ground about how it might affect them. If we have specific legislation that talks about remote communities, we should actually talk to those communities. It is a great opportunity for input. This also applies to our towns and cities. It is about voices being heard. There is another important pointwith our current committee structures you are either on a committee or not. If you are a minister and see the legislation coming through, you have a deeper understanding of it, but the proposals enable members of this House to interchange on committees for the first time. We saw that in action in Queensland. It was good to see that if you have a passionthe Member for Karama has a passion for suicide prevention, and I would hate for her not to be on a committee where suicide prevention is being discussed, or for her to be locked out of that committees work. If legislation was introduced she would be able to interchange with people on that committee and bring her wealth of experience to that committee. That is another exciting thing about the changes being proposed. I note another couple of things from the report. The first is that we are suggesting acknowledgement of country at the beginning of our parliamentary sittings, along with the customary Lords Prayer. This is contemporary thinking; it is quite exciting. There is a real opportunity to acknowledge country. We do it all the time, even within our Caucus. It is significant, and in opening parliament we should acknowledge country. The other matter to note is that there was much robust debate about the names of committees. I would not say it was a unanimous agreement, so I welcome that going to the Standing Orders Committee to develop some terms of reference. That is important work. I also note annual reports, which come later than our estimates process. Having an estimates-type committee later in the year and teasing that outa separate process for annual reportsbrings a level of scrutiny that is not currently there. I hear feedback from people who have been involved in estimates previously, where the reports under consideration were almost 12 months out of date. You are always retrospectively looking back, and things move quickly across the Territory, so it is important those annual reports are considered when they are finished in the current financial year. At the moment it is likely to be a 50-50 split between that and estimates; a suggestion is that at the end of the 12-month period we will look at it and decide whether we want to spend more time on estimates or on annual reports. There was robust debate, and not 100% agreement by the committee on all points, but that is democracy. It is reflective of the makeup of the committee. Good on everybody for voicing their views and those of their colleagues. As a government we have to make this work. It is our commitment, so we need to be careful and listen to all views.
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