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ANZACATT Professional Development Seminar 26 – 29 January 2010 Australian Capital Territory

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ANZACATT Professional Development Seminar 26 – 29 January 2010 Australian Capital Territory The operation of the Legislative Assembly for the ACT and its committees – a brief overview Presentation by Tom Duncan Clerk of the Legislative Assembly. Key Features. Small legislature – 17 MLAs

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Presentation Transcript
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ANZACATT Professional Development Seminar

26 – 29 January 2010Australian Capital Territory

The operation of theLegislative Assembly for the ACTand its committees –

a brief overview

Presentation by Tom DuncanClerk of the Legislative Assembly

slide2
Key Features
  • Small legislature – 17 MLAs
  • Legislative Assembly offices are also electorate offices
  • Unicameral
  • Of 7 Assemblies (we used to have 3 year terms) 6 have been minority government
  • Currently a minority Government – 7 Labor, 6 Liberal, 4 Greens
  • Independents and minor parties have had a major influence

Green MLA as Speaker

  • Same privileges and immunities as House of Representatives

ie Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987 applies in the ACT

  • Young legislature – only 20 years old – practices still evolving
  • Fixed election date – 3rd Saturday in October – 4 year terms
  • Petitions must be responded to within 3 months of tabling – standing order 100
  • Independent Legal Arbiter
  • Code of conduct for Members – Resolution
  • Ethics and Integrity Adviser
  • Twinned with Parliament of Kiribati
  • Campaign advertising reviewer – needs to be approved by 2/3 majority of Members
slide7
Question Time
  • Every non-executive MLA gets a QWN and a supplementary
  • A further two supplementaries can be asked
  • Time limits on answers – 4 minutes for the first answer and 2 minutes for the supplementary
  • Only 2 MLAs ask “dorothy dixers” – 18%

72% of questions are non-Government questions

  • Answers must be directly relevant – standing order 118(a)

118. The answer to a question without notice: (a) shall be concise and directly relevant to the subject matter of the question;

  • If Minister makes a ministerial statement during Question Time, MLA may have 5 minutes at conclusion of Question Time – standing order 118
slide8
Law Making
  • Introduction
  • Human Rights Act compatibility statement presented
  • Agreement in principle
  • Detail stage
  • Agreement to bill
  • Notification on Legislation Register
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Consideration of bills by the Assembly

Initiation and presentation in the Assembly(standing orders 167-70, 200)

Examination byScrutiny Committee

Possible reference to select or standing committee(standing orders 174-7)

Agreement in principle(standing orders 171-3)

Agreement in principle may be negatived

Detail stage (clause by clause consideration)(standing orders 178-88)

May be dispensed with pursuant tostanding order 178

Agreement to bill(standing orders 189-91)

Certification of bill as having passed and notification on Legislation Register(standing order 193)

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Assembly

No of bills declared urgent

First 3Second 4Third 1Fourth 1Fifth NilSixth 1Seventh 1

Law making (cont’d)

  • Very few declarations of urgency
  • Bills cannot be passed in the same period of sitting as they are introduced – standing order 172 – on average (in the Seventh Assembly) bills are passed within 37days of being introduced
  • Bills generally don’t get passed unless Scrutiny Committee comments are addressed
  • Often amended as a result of Scrutiny Committee process
  • Assent process – No Governor-General or Administrator (like NT)

Speaker asks Parliamentary Counsel to notify law

  • Over the last 20 years on average 20% of bills introduced are PMB
  • 10% of bills passed are PMB
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Bills Introduced

Bills Passed

Assembly

PMB Bills

Exec Bills

% per Assembly

PMB Bills

Exec Bills

% per Assembly

First

55

241

18.6

13

200

6.1

Second

63

286

18.1

25

270

8.5

Third

59

262

35

237

12.9

18.4

Fourth

109

307

25.8

58

283

16.8

26.6

20

176

Fifth

68

188

10.2

217

19.6

9

212

4.1

Sixth

53

Seventh

25

27.8

16.7

65

10

50

Private Members’ bills passed into law

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Committees
  • 7 standing committees and 3 select committees

Standing – Administration and Procedure Climate Change, Environment and Water Education, Training and Youth Affairs Health, Community and Social Services Justice and Community Safety (which also performs the duties of a Scrutiny of Bills and Subordinate Legislation Committee) Planning, Public Works and Territory and Municipal Services Public Accounts

Select – Campaign Advertising Estimates 2009-2010 Privileges 2009

  • 3 MLAs on each committee (except Estimates Committee (5) and Administration and Procedure Committee (4))
  • On average – each Opposition MLA is on 1.8 committees – each Crossbench MLA is on 3 committees– each Government MLA is on 4.5 committees
slide13
Committees (cont’d)
  • Greens chair 4 committees
  • Opposition chairs 3 committees
  • Government chairs 1 committee
  • Government does not have a majority on any committee
  • Committees can self refer matters and often do
  • Consideration of statutory appointments – during 2007-08 Assembly committees considered 149 statutory appointments
  • Have a Select Committee on Estimates every year

(Speaker and Clerk appears before committees twice a year – estimates and hearings on the Legislative Assembly annual report)

  • Government responses – High response rate
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Percentage of government responses received

57 / 82

69.5%

25 / 82

30.5 %

Percentage of government responses not received

Percentage of government responses received within3 months time limit*

42.6 %

Percentage of government responses not received within 3 months time limit*

39 / 68

57.4 %

29 /68

* As at August 2008, excludes any reports tabled after May 2008

Summary of Government responses

to committee reports

(Sixth Assembly)

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Prayer and reflection andrecognition of traditional custodians
  • Acknowledgement of traditional custodians
  • There is no prayer read
slide16
Matters of public importancefigures
  • Every sitting Tuesday and Thursday, 1 hour debate (after questions and ministerial statements – usually 3 pm)
  • Chosen by ballot by the Speaker each day at 8.30 am
  • 27 matters discussed in 7th Assembly

– 40.7% were raised by Green MLAs (with 27% of the non-executive MLAs)

– 40.7% were raised by Opposition MLAs (with 54.5% of the non-executive MLAs)

– 18.5% were raised by Government MLAs (with 18% of the non-executive MLAs)

slide17
Declarations of Members’ Interests /Discretionary Office Allowance /

Travel reports on internet

  • From February 2010 all declarations, expenditure on allowances and study trip travel reports will be placed on the Assembly’s homepage
  • Have adopted the CPA’s Latimer House Principles as a resolution of continuing effect
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