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Motion: Ministerial Diaries

29 November 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (18:16): Firstly, I speak in favour of the motion on behalf of the Hon. Frank Pangallo and indicate that the Greens will be supporting this. I know a lot of speakers have alluded to the fact that the government will not be supporting this motion, but given the position that they have adopted on the Hon. Sarah Game's bill in the lower house, I can only assume that they would be supporting this motion, great fans of transparency that they are.

I would be very shocked if they were to favour a bill of the Hon. Sarah Game over a bill put forward by myself dealing with transparency that has been languishing in the lower house for some time. I cannot imagine why they would not support my bill, yet they are so attracted to the bill of the Hon. Sarah Game. I cannot imagine why that would be. I have been very pleasant to deal with this week and every week. I cannot imagine why they would be so attracted to the bill of the Hon. Sarah Game that they opposed so vociferously when it was first announced.

Indeed, I remember hearing a number of Labor ministers lining up in the media to indicate that the bill was not needed and that it was a bridge too far. This week, they have enthusiastically supported it. I know it is Christmas season and we talk a lot about Secret Santa, but what about secret deals? Has there been a secret deal done? I asked the government about this back in November when we were talking about the Hydrogen and Renewable Energy Bill. I read from Hansard. I said at that time:

I am advised that in the other place a bill from the Hon. Sarah Game relating to ministerial travel has now been moved up for debate for the next sitting week. Earlier, the government advised that there had been no deal done with the Hon. Sarah Game. Is that still the government's position?

The honourable Minister Scriven replied:

…the crossbench in this place made statements to the effect that they had not engaged in any deals. I think the line of questioning is quite offensive.

I do not mean to cause offence to the minister, but the community has a right to know. If there has not been a secret deal, then it is incumbent on the government in their remarks to indicate why they are so attracted to the Hon. Sarah Game bill and why they are so lukewarm on, so repulsed by, the Greens bill that they would leave it to languish there for 12 months.

I note the comments made by the Hon. Connie Bonaros and the Hon. Sarah Game that a motion is not the appropriate measure. Well, motions are a statement of intent. Motions indicate the views of this chamber, and my understanding is that this would have the potential to compel members of this chamber, ministers, to reveal their diaries.

It would, as a result, put more pressure, I think, on the government in the other place, and that is the role of the opposition and the crossbench. It is not simply to say, 'Oh, well, it's all too hard, and we're not going to go there.' So I am disappointed in the position that the Hon. Connie Bonaros and the Hon. Sarah Game have taken in this regard.

In terms of the substance of the motion, this has been a long-term priority for the Greens. As indicated, we have a bill that has passed this chamber, calling for ministerial diaries to be made available, bringing South Australia into line with Queensland, with New South Wales and others.

For me, personally, this has been a long-term campaign. Indeed, back in town hall I initiated a developer contact register so the community could see who local councillors were meeting with. Unfortunately, that move was opposed by the Hon. Sandy Verschoor, Lord Mayor at the time, and the co-leader of the Team Adelaide faction, Alex Hyde. They prevented that transparency measure, but I kept pushing, also trying to get access to diaries from the Lord Mayor, and we have continued that fight here in state parliament.

I commend the Hon. Frank Pangallo for the position he has taken on this and really urge members to get on board. That said, I am optimistic the government will support it, because not to support it would be so inconsistent with the position they have taken on the other bill on a similar related matter that I think it would be very disingenuous for them to oppose this move by the Hon. Frank Pangallo, and they could leave themselves open to charges of hypocrisy were they to do so.