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 1675 Legislative Assembly. We acknowledge that the committees will need to hold hearings at other times to hear from as many Territorians as possible. Committees will retain ability for flexibility should they wish to meet outside of sitting times. I have listened to the debate today regarding estimates, and in our discussion paper prior to the election we raised the option of changes to the estimates process. The former Labor government first introduced estimates in the Northern Territory, and the Member for Nelsons contribution reiterated that the process was different. I recollect former members of the House also explaining that process here in this Chamber. The former Labor government introduced the role of estimates, and it plays a vital role in providing scrutiny of government budget and expenditure. We have had that process in place for more than 15 years and we feel it is appropriate to consider improvements. We have talked about it today in the House, so I will not go back over it, but we remember the previous Chief Minister, at estimates in 2015, trying to wind the clock down. Prior to the election we proposed that consideration be given to splitting the estimates process into two separate weeks. One week would remain as the current time in June to scrutinise the budget expenditure and output by way of budget considerations. The other portion of the estimates would be moved to later in the year to allow scrutiny of agencies annual reports, tabled in the October sittings, and it is proposed to hold a week of annual report scrutiny in November. As a government we are strongly supportive of this measure. We will review this in 12 months time, but it is an opportunity to provide scrutiny not only to the budget and the consideration of the Appropriation Bill, but also the annual reports. They largely get forgotten, apart from a few adjournment speeches, and there is a lot of information in them and a lot of hard work goes into them. It is proposed that an even split of 30 hours would occur for estimates and annual reports; this will allow an appropriate amount of time for both important focuses of the Assembly. To ensure there is appropriate scrutiny of all ministers, it is proposed that the combined time for the Chief Minister and the Treasurer, appearing before the hearings of both estimates and the agency annual reports, would not exceed eight hours, which is currently their time frame for the two weeks. For all other ministers the global time limit would be seven hours across both hearings, so the ministerial times would be the same, but they would be split between the week of annual reports and the week of estimates. Should the Assembly agree to these amendments and changes, it is proposed that this years estimates committee will take the new format: a week a in June and a week in October or November; we would allocate 30 hours to each week; and the global time for the Chief Minister and the Treasurer will be eight hours, other ministers will be seven. That could be split; perhaps the Treasurer could have five hours in June and two hours in November. You can work it out there. We propose that the three sitting days currently assigned in Junethey are not actual sitting days, as they are already nominated for estimatesbe moved to November. PetitionsI touched on that before but I will just come back to it. We want a process that allows petitions to be a part of the process a bit more, and I think sending that to the Standing Orders Committeethe complex debate we have heard within the government benches and committee. I have already spoken about it. In achieving our goal of opening parliament to the people and allocating time to these debates we need to make sure the matters debated in the House are truly representative of the Territory. The Standing Orders Committee will provide that opportunity. I understand there was a high level of debate amongst the select committee on this matter. The committee members, as with our government members, representing the diversity of the electorates engaged with that debate. We will take that to the Standing Orders Committee hoping we can come up with a process. We support the acknowledgement of country. We do this as a Caucus already; we acknowledge that we gather on the land in Darwin of the Larakia people and pay our respects. We believe it is appropriate we recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as traditional custodians of the lands we meet on. This is nowhere truer than in the Northern Territory. It would be fabulous to have the Northern Territory parliament adopt such recognition.
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