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 1668 the problem where questions would be answered on the floor by the minister when it should have been answered before estimates, and then questions can be asked about the answers. People would remember the famous example of the previous Chief Minister, who read a statement so slowly that it took up an enormous amount of time in estimates. That was an abuse of the estimates system. There can be efficiencies, but I also feel that if we knock out too many hours from the Estimates Committee a number of portfolios that we should ask questions on will miss out. I would rather leave the annual report system as it is. I use it for a few questionssomeone said it was out of date, but it is not out of date. You will find in those reports there are programs that are continuing. You give the minister the opportunity to say what happened to that program and how much money was spent on it. If you want to use the up-to-date annual reports, I would rather have estimates come out after the annual reports are completed. You could then say they are both contemporary and make sense. There are plenty of questions in the previous estimates. You can look at last years actuals as well as this years estimates; that is all part of what to look at. I would prefer to leave it as it is, because I do not think cutting hours for estimates will improve the situation. We have had many debates on the hours for estimates ever since the Estimates Committee was established in 2002 or 2003. We did not have the Estimates Committee before. My memory is that people used to stand here until the sun rose, asking questions of the minister until they ran out of questions. The system we have now is an improvement on that. In regard to petitions, I note that the Member for Namatjira talked about going back to the standing orders. I just checked and the only thing I can seeperhaps someone can prove me wrong, but the only thing going back to the standing orders for investigation is the options for enabling electronic petitions through the Assemblys website. The rest of the committee recommendation is that: the Assembly provides that any petition conforming with Standing Orders with more than 1000 signatures be set down on the Notice Paper It did not say there could not be any petitions, but it needed to be a fair-sized petition before it was put on the Notice Paper and people could speak about it. I would be concerned if a small communitys voice was not heard simply because there might not be 1000 people in the community, so how it will work in practice I do not know. I notice you have to be a resident of the Northern Territory, which is important, but whether you have to be on the roll is one thing that was discussed. That is a bit like saying you have to pay rates to vote in local government elections. Once upon a time you did, but now you could live in a caravan park and you are allowed to vote as long as you are on the roll. Should people be able to sign a petition if they are not on the electoral roll? Who will check it anyway? It will be hard to check because you could look on the electoral roll and sign someone elses name. It will be warts and all, and what we have put here is reasonable, but I am concerned about small communities. I noticed Recommendation 29, which says: The Committee recommends that the House Committee investigate the appropriate level and model of library services for Members of the Legislative Assembly, having regard to services provided in other jurisdictions, the research support needs of Members, and the need for independence in Members research support. Lo and behold, it is the Independents who struggle with independent research. I am not knocking the two peoplethey are very good peoplewhom the government selected on our behalf to be research officers. They are doing some work for me at the moment. But I find it strange that the government can appoint whomever it wants to help in researchwhatever they do up there on the fifth floor, getting speeches ready et cetera. They can select who they want.
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