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 1674 intention of petitions is to provide for opening what would be the threshold to bring a petition to this House. We represent very diverse electorates. I will never forget the previous Chief Minister laughing at 74or perhaps it was 90emergency department nurses who had signed a petition. I did the maths and figured out there were some 1600 staff at RDH. Nearly 100 of them signing a petition is quite significant. The way they were treated with such disrespect sticks in my mind. I am looking forward to standing orders working that through so we can ensurewe have a process currently around petitions and I think that works well. We genuinely want to open it up to further debate, but how do we get there? That is why we have referred a number of matters to the Standing Orders Committee so we can look at what sessional changes need to be made. By referring them to the Standing Orders Committee it will report back to the House and there will be further debate at that point. We have looked at the recommendations and there are a number of procedural aspects to implement. We want to ensure the standing orders clearly outline those procedural changes. I will now touch on some of the recommendations in detail. On the matter of portfolio scrutiny committees, which relates to Recommendation 4, we propose that this matter be referred to the Standing Orders Committee to draft terms of reference for these committees. It is requested that the Standing Orders Committee will report back to the House on the terms of reference. At that point we can continue the debate. I note that the proposal to establish portfolio scrutiny committees has its basis in a discussion paper that was put forward to the Assembly in 2015 by the then Speaker. As I noted in that paper many other legislatures have committees that regularly consider legislation before parliament. The proposal to establish these scrutiny committees is one that the government strongly supports. There has been consideration around how to future-proof such committees. The reality of government agencies is that, from time to time, the realignment of responsibilities becomes necessary. It is therefore envisaged that these scrutiny committees would focus on social and economic issues so we can ensure that issues do not fit neatly into them. It is anticipated that it would be considered by the Standing Orders Committee as part of developing the terms of reference that they could establish the names. These groupings and this focus provide the required flexibility to respond to changes in department structures and responsibilities whilst future-proofing this. If you look at an issue within my portfolio of Health, for example, it may be more of an economic review that is needed or it could be social impact policy scrutiny. We need to ensure that we cater for that. The proposed assignment of portfolios, as detailed in Recommendation 4, is not supported, but we are looking forward to moving that to the Standing Orders Committee. The way we feel as a government is that once legislation is introduced to the parliament it is envisaged that the Chairs of the committees would meet to determine the focus of the bill and refer it to the appropriate scrutiny committee. We are willing to work with these committees as a government. If they meet on a Thursday at lunchtime they could address the legislation that had been introduced that sittings and then work out the focus of that legislation. There may be the odd occasion that a second reading speech would be done after the luncheon break on a Thursday, but I am sure arrangements could be made to cater for that so we are not keeping members here who may travel from out of Darwin unnecessarily. We allow the Chairs of the committees to determine the focus of the bill and refer it to the appropriate committee. The select committee report proposes changes to Standing Orders 176, 177 and 178 to provide for the scrutiny committees to take on all the functions of the Subordinate Legislation and Publications Committee, the Public Accounts Committee and the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee for their assigned portfolios. We support that the current level of functions and powers of these established committees be transferred to the new committees. As such, Recommendation 14 and a new Standing Order 177 are not supported as the powers of the Subordinate Legislation and Publications Committee, which are proposed in this recommendation, go much further than is currently the case. We strongly support the allocation of Assembly meeting time on Wednesday for the scrutiny committees to conduct business. These committees are to be established to provide further scrutiny of legislation and are considered Legislative Assembly work. Committee work is Assembly work; the allocation of Assembly meeting time reflects this. These committees will give Territorians an opportunity to directly interact with the