Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas said today that when Parliament resumes this month, up to six Legislative Council Select Committees should be given the opportunity to complete their work, to finalise reports and table their evidence in the Parliament.
These committees have been investigating issues such as the petrol industry, property taxes, the ‘stashed cash’ affair, the Atkinson/Ashbourne affair, police resources and Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions resources.
“Because evidence uncovered by some of these committees embarrassed the Rann Government and some of its members, the Rann Government tried to close down the committees prior to the election. It is therefore likely that the Rann Government will try to stop these committees from finalising their investigations and reporting to the Parliament,” Mr Lucas said.
“The usual practice in the Legislative Council over many years has been for Committees to be re-established after an election to complete their work where the Member who successfully established the committee wants to have its work finalised. The most recent example of this was the re-establishment of the Interactive Gambling Select Committee after the 2002 election.”
Some of the Committees are close to finalising their reports whilst others, such as the property taxes committee, still have a lot of evidence to collect before being able to report.
The Auditor-General is still to complete giving his evidence to the ‘stashed cash’ committee and the Commissioner of State Taxation has not yet appeared before the property taxes committee.
The recent hearings of the Cole Inquiry have placed even more pressure on Premier Rann and Attorney-General Atkinson in relation to the Atkinson/Ashbourne Committee. The fact that Prime Minister Howard and other senior Ministers were prepared to answer questions about their actions before the Cole Inquiry puts more pressure on Rann and Atkinson to front up to the Select Committee to answer serious questions about their behaviour and actions. The only other option for Rann and Atkinson would be to finally establish a Royal Commission with appropriate terms of reference so they can be questioned by an independent Commissioner.
“Sadly, Rann and Atkinson’s record on accountability would indicate they will continue to refuse to answer questions.”