Day 2 session 4(b)

Friday 24 February 2017

(scribe/author: Pam Smith)

Session 4:  Broader Governance Reforms #2

Panel:  Graeme Orr, Nicholas Gruen, Peter Timmins (online), Jeff Collins, David Morris, Eric Withnall

*Graeme Orr’s initial presentation not transcribed here. See Robyn Smith summary of this session for Graeme’s contribution.

Nicholas Gruen

  • Citizens juries – people rise to the occasion and feel flattered/ The educative power of involving the people
  • The idea of an additional House of parliament.
  • Impose a secret ballot on the other chambers

Peter Timmins

  • NT should have a FOI act that is fit for the C21st
  • The issue of the digital world – D Google and the expectations of immediate information. This is no covered in the NT FOI act
  • Contract information- things that should be disclosed. There should be ongoing disclosure of policy, programs and performance. Government to publish reasons for decisions.

Jeff Collins

  • Not good to push through legislation. The NT government wanting to explore issues thoroughly
  • Looking at adoption of review committees. Question is how many and how would this work.

David Morris

  • Planning – Can you take the politics out of planning. There are reasons for things to be made public
  • Introduction of merit review
  • Susceptibility to political lobbying – so need independent arbiter
  • Enforcement of planning act
  • Adequacy of reasons for decisions – a valid basis for upturning decisions.

Eric Withnall

  • ICAC – seems to be a permanent Royal Commission!
  • Most jurisdictions have an ICAC
  • Top models – NSW
  • ICAC is not a cure all. It depends on a whole lot of other reforms otherwise there is nothing for it to investigate. Can be a very scary but effective tool

Comments and questions

Question – If we did end up with a Charter of Rights what about creation of a tribunal? The head should be a supreme court judge. Climate change act to consider impact on what we plan. Little substantive change to environmental laws.

Comment – Drivers for the introduction of an FOI in the NT was because a lot of people could not get the information they needed. Having an act made you think about decisions more carefully ( Clare Martin)

Comment – Should start again to make it less complex

Comment – revision of environmental law in the NT is critical.

Response – Could end up with situation where every decision is paralysed by analysis

Question to Jeff – Your proposal about review committees. What is the membership?

Response – They will be parliamentary members.

Comment – Tony Blair experience – ardour cools for this when in office

( FOI). We do need champions for the idea that people have a right to know