Debates Day 3 - Thursday 19 November 2015
Parliamentary Record 24
Debates for 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Thursday 19 November 2015 7422 appears that Mr No One, the minister for nobody, has been left to take the blame, even though the Chief Minister admitted the advertisements were conceived, authorised and designed in his office. When the Speaker of this House took the justifiable step of holding the government to account for a misleading attack on the members, what was the Chief Ministers response? Did he say he would change the standing orders to make government more accountable to the parliament and the people it represents? Did he say the advertisements were wrong? No. His response was to launch an attack on our Speaker. We have seen that in todays Northern Territory News. So much for the governments newfound commitment to accountability in the parliament. While we are talking about accountability and why it is so important to have that in our parliament with our standing orders, recently we asked some questions in relation to ministerial travel. I will read from the response we were given. It was a query to the Chief Minister about ministerial overseas travel costs. We asked the question: For each overseas trip undertaken by ministers in 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 (year to date): 1. what was the itemised break-up costs? 2. What were the details of any personal expenditure paid for by the government? 3. When were these costs recouped? The response we received from our unaccountable Chief Minister was: The data requested in this question is considered an onerous imposition on the Department of the Chief Minister. Ministerial travel has been the subject of rigorous interrogation in the estimates process and I refer you to the responses provided previously. The Chief Minister, though, stopped and refused to read out answers that were in front of him. The answer went on: The travel report prepared for the 2014-15 estimates question took department staff six weeks to prepare and reconcile. That was from the same answer the Chief Minister stopped reading. The answer went on to say: This is not considered to be constructive use of public servants time and a waste of taxpayer dollars. The Chief Minister refused to answer a written question on overseas travel because it takes too much time and he thinks it is a waste of taxpayer dollars. This is the Chief Minister who has no hesitation in wasting taxpayer dollars on a range of things, including the offensive advertisements that have placed him in so much trouble recently. We have a Chief Minister and ministers who do not get it. Their contempt for public accountability is offensive to Territorians. If they took the time to talk to real Territorians they would hear that, but they simply refuse to change. By contrast, the opposition has a firm public commitment to being open and accountable, including reform of Question Time and Estimates Committee processes to strengthen the independence of the Speaker. We spoke at length on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, Madam Speaker, about how we felt your guidance in this House was very fair and independent. The opposition supports the adoption of the new standing orders, but we have a qualification that we will be moving the amendment. The Leader of Government Business has indicated he will support that because this document was prepared before standing orders needed to come into place. The previous Chief Minister provided statement documents the night before but this government changed a long-standing convention. We have also sought advice but understand that the adoption of these standing orders will not impact on the current structure of the Public Accounts Committee. Madam Speaker, this is a detailed document that will guide this House. The changes to standing orders are fairly routine. They will provide us with a document to guide the running of this parliament for you to refer to in allowing debates to occur in the Northern Territory. I will seek advice from the Leader of Government Business when I have concluded my remarks. I believe the member for Nelson has remarks Mr Elferink: Can I just be reassured that the amendment you are about to move has been produced by the Clerks office in accordance with the proper vetting process? It is not just something you guys have scratched out? Ms FYLES: No, it is not something I prepared at lunchtime. It was prepared in accordance with the Clerks office process. Mr Elferink: I will take that on face value because if they have done that we can presume it has been done properly and we are happy to take the amendment in advance.