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 1667 It would have been a good example of saying we will not wait for this committee to come up with its recommendations. This committee put out draft recommendations before the end of last year, which said to send all the bills to a committee. If this government is fair dinkum about what it is trying to put forward here, which I support, it would have done it with that bill. It did not do it and I feel so disappointed, regardless of my views, that it did not take that opportunity. I supported the idea of sending bills to a committee long ago. I remember meeting people at a CPA meeting where one of the clerks gave me a rundown of how this system works in Queensland, and I raised with the previous government that that was a better way of doing things. Being a unicameral system we do not get a second chance unless we debate through the consideration in detail stage in parliament. In some ways, the second chance for us to debate some things is for a committee to scrutinise a bill as a tri-partisan body that can take it to the community, depending on what sort of legislation it is. It can inform and discuss with those who will be affected by the bill and hopefully come back to parliament with an agreed statement about whether the bill should be passed without amendment, should be amended or should not be passed at all. Not everybody will be on the committee, so even though the committee may come to parliament with an agreed position, members of this House still need the opportunity to debate that, otherwise it would be undemocratic and you would not be including the whole of parliament. It will be slow in some ways because you can look at these issues up to three assemblies. Bills will not go through as quickly as some have over the last few years, unless they are on urgency. If they are on urgency government has to show they are genuine urgency bills. It will slow things down to some extent, but it is a better way of doing things. You will have an opportunity to be involved and provide input to the legislation. That is the way it should be. A number of issues were raised. The government has to agree to the recommendations; this is not a fait accompli. Having been on the committee I know the government has different points of view than the committee. What the final recommendations will be with the blessing of the government, I am not 100% sure. I hope it takes up most of these recommendations. The idea of portfolio scrutiny committeesI have been to Canada and that is what Nunavut and the North West Territories do. The minister comes to those meetings and discusses his or her legislation before the committee. You scrutinise the minister. That needs to be part of what we do as well. We should be able to call the minister into a committee meeting and say, Minister, please explain what this piece of legislation means. That tests the government on whether it knows what it is talking about. That is what happens in those unicameral systems. I can live with the changes to when this committee will sit. The agreement is Monday mornings will be when we meet the public and on Wednesdays we will discuss the responses to the public meetings amongst ourselves. That is better than what was put forward, which was to crowd everything in on Wednesday morning. From the point of view of mechanicsthe government said, No, you will not get any more staff. We need to make sure we have adequate staffing for this to work. If we have a lot of bills, travels and reportsif the government believes in the system and how it workswe need the backing of adequate staff to make sure it does. Otherwise we will be putting an enormous workload on a few people and that will not be good for the morale of the Legislative Assembly. I have thought about this a number of times. I have been on the Estimates Committee, but last year was the first year I missed it because I had to go to the north of Canada. If you cut that from 60 hours for estimates, regardless of the annual reports, you will kill the whole system. You have a lot of portfolios. Most years we do not cover all portfolios. Several times we did not get to discuss the port. It is always at the bottom of the pile. One year we made sure the port was on top. We already struggle to cover all portfolios. There will be departments that prepare their bits and pieces for that portfolio, but they can almost guarantee they have wasted their time. It would not be a bad exercise to go back through estimates and see which portfolios were never asked about. Some of it was because there were too many rubbishy questions like, How much carpet is in this room? What is the square meterage? Both sides used to do it. I have been to enough estimates to know they used to do it all the time. I would sit there and ask, When are we going to ask the deep and meaningful questions? It was a tactic, and we had
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