Territory Stories

Debates Day 4 - Tuesday 9 May 2017



Debates Day 4 - Tuesday 9 May 2017

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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





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES Tuesday 9 May 2017 1672 It is important to look at the proposal around estimates to split estimates into two hearings: one in June for the budget and one in November for annual reporting. I am surprised the Member for Nelson, who taught me a lot about the content and nature of annual reports and good scrutiny of government, tonight did not reinforce what I thought was a strong resonation of his use of annual reports and the basis for scrutiny of a good government. The committee got this right. I note the strong level of support received for the change. I have no doubt this change will bring much-wanted scrutiny on two important public sector processes. I am the first to admit that it will be a task to get through all the annual reports for a minister in time for the November estimates hearings, but with an open and transparent parliament, this is a level of commitment the public expects from ministers of the Crown. Each of these estimates weeks will get 30 hours, and I look forward to our government bringing this amendment to sessional orders. To ensure the entire Cabinet is scrutinised, the combined amount of estimates time the Chief Minister and Treasurer will receive is eight hours, while for each other minister there will be no more than seven hours. This reform will ensure all the things government does, whether popular or unpopular, has the opportunity for scrutiny during this important process. Estimates will now look something like four days in June for budget estimates and three days in November for annual report consideration. Acknowledgement of country has been mentioned in this Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory, and I am proud to stand with a government that strongly supports the Assembly acknowledging country every morning that it sits. For many of us it is a matter of course, custom, manners and respect that country and its traditional custodians are acknowledged. We meet on Aboriginal land and we debate on Aboriginal land, so it is only fitting that we at least acknowledge the land on which we meet every time parliament sits for the important work we do. It is 2017 and I am sure many Territorians would be surprised that we have not done it already. This is something we need to do, and we will support this important recommendation. The work of the minister, the crossover between the legislative and executive branches of government, is vital to the good function of government and can profoundly impact on peoples lives. We support ministerial reports being debated in the morning session, where the issue may not require a full ministerial statement. In implementing ministerial reports, we are adding another function of accountability to a minister, keeping it brief while allowing substantive debate on the floor. While we endeavour to get things right the first time, it does not always happen. Small mistakes are what makes us human and are a wonderful aspect of human dynamism. This means we will adopt an important protocol about reviewing policy every 12 months. That is the mark of good governance, good opposition and good policy. The public should expect a high degree of performance, accountability and transparency from the Assembly, and I am pleased to support the measures that will open parliament to the people. The more space we can put between us and the last government the better. Territorians will see the benefits of more accountability and scrutiny on the people who represent them. That means trust. I look forward to revisiting these ideas in the future as technologies and methods of communication change, and no doubt this, as a process, will engender continual improvements. It is fitting to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the members who made this happen, including the Member for Fong Lim, who chaired the committee, and the Member for Araluen, who was the Deputy Chair. The Leader of the Opposition and the Members for Karama, Stuart, Namatjira, Sanderson and Nelson all served on the select committee. I also acknowledge the committees secretariat. I have fond memories of working on parliamentary committees, both sessional and select committees, and the support provided to members of parliament is highly professional. I am sure the new members involved in the Select Committee on Opening Parliament to the People have experienced that; they are great Territorians who work with us in this place. They are professional and provide that incredible level of support that enhances your job and delivers the best outcomes. Well done to the secretariat. I have had the pleasure of working with them. They have supported our elected community representatives to deliver a great outcome and a great agenda to address some