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Parliamentary Committees (Response to Reports) Amendment Bill

7 February 2024



Introduction and First Reading


The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (16:26): Obtained leave and introduced a bill for an act to amend the Parliamentary Committees Act 1991. Read a first time.


Second Reading


The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (16:27): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

This bill seeks to amend the Parliamentary Committees Act to require that the relevant minister provide a response to any parliamentary inquiry's recommendations within four months of the report being tabled in the parliament. Currently, there is a requirement that, if a matter is referred to the Legislative Review Committee via a petition that is signed by 10,000 people, the relevant minister is automatically required to respond, but of course we know that there is no requirement for ministers to respond to the recommendations of select committees.

Ordinarily, you would say that we could operate in a trust model in this place. We would assume that the relevant minister would, of course, respond to the recommendations of a select committee. Sadly, that is not the case when it comes to some of the ministers in this Labor government and, in particular, I refer to the Hon. Tom Koutsantonis.

As I highlighted in question time today, 12 months ago to the day I tabled the report of the Public and Active Transport Committee that made a series of recommendations. We had more than 100 people make submissions to that inquiry and more than 50 people gave evidence to the inquiry and I really appreciated the participation of members of a vast array of political parties at that committee table.

When the committee tabled the report, I contacted the minister's office on 7 February and requested a meeting and I did not hear back. I followed up again on 13 April and again I did not hear back. Prior to starting in this place, I never had a problem getting guys to call me back, but for some reason the minister seems to be ghosting me.

I do not know what is going on. I do not know why the minister will not pick up the phone and call me back, why he does not want to talk hydrogen with the Greens, why he does not want to talk transport policy with the Greens, but it seems that the minister's view is that, when the parliamentary committee hands down a report, his job is simply to take the report, pop it in a drawer, never read it again and let it sit there for months and months, gathering dust.

I think that is very insulting. It is an insult not just to us as members of this chamber and members of parliament who engage in select committees in goodwill to identify potential policy solutions for the government of the day; it is also a slap in the face to those members of the community who have gone to the effort to put pen to paper and make a submission to an inquiry or who have gone to the effort to come and speak, as 50 people did to that inquiry, to members of parliament and address them and share their concerns.

What does the government do? In the case of the Hon. Tom Koutsantonis he has done nothing in terms of engaging with the recommendations. I fear, to quote Sam Smith, who I know the Labor government love, he is not the only one. We know that the Hon. Clare Scriven, while she did admit today that she has actually read the report, has not engaged with the contents of the report and has refused to do so. Despite being asked on many, many occasions, she uses the Scott Morrison defence: 'That's not my job.' Ms Scriven says, 'That's not my job'. It is not the Hon. Tom Koutsantonis's job either.

This bill would ensure that actually the relevant minister is required to respond and respond in a timely fashion. Under this Greens proposal the minister would be required to indicate which of the recommendations of a committee report they will implement, which ones they will not implement and the reason for their decision. That seems very, very reasonable.

Normally, it would not be required, but when we have a minister that is ghosting members of parliament and refusing to respond to their queries and efforts to engage, then the parliament needs to step up and take action, and that is what we are proposing in this instance.


Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. I.K. Hunter.