Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas said today that incredible arrogance by Premier Rann and his Ministers had forced a major policy shift by the Liberal Party to increase the accountability of the Rann Government to the Parliament.
Consistent with the practice in most other Upper Houses, some key Legislative Council Committees will no longer be chaired by a Government Member but will now be chaired by a non- government Member.
The first example of this policy change is likely to be a non-government chair of the powerful, new Budget and Finance Committee which will be established to monitor all budget related issues. Such a move will increase the power of this committee to get answers to questions and to keep the Rann Government accountable.
“Recent actions have made it clear that Mr. Rann and his Ministers have decided to use every sneaky trick and loophole they can think of to try and restrict proper scrutiny and accountability of the Rann Government,” Mr Lucas said.
“For example, the important Atkinson/Ashbourne Scandal Committee has not had a meeting for more than 6 months because the Government chair has refused to call a meeting. A draft report had been prepared last year but there is no doubt the Government chair is ‘being consulted’ by senior levels of the Rann Government about ‘improvements’ to the draft report.
“Other Government chairs of committees have also restricted the operations of committees by restricting meetings and questioning of witnesses.
“The Rann Government has also restricted accountability by refusing to answer over 600 questions on notice in the Parliament and clamping down on reasonable use of FOI laws.
“A non-government chair of the Budget and Finance Committee will prevent Mr. Rann from stopping the committee’s work by having his nominee restricting the number of meetings or restricting proper questioning of witnesses.”
Mr Lucas said this new policy is consistent with recent practice with the powerful Senate Committees. For example when Labor, Green and Democrat Senators had a majority in the Senate all key Senate Committees were not chaired by Government Senators. Similarly key committees in the NSW, Victorian and WA Upper Houses are chaired by non-government Members.