Transparency and public accountability

Today Abigail spoke about the importance of ensuring our systems ensure proper transparency and accountability. 

Abigail said: 

The Greens support the motion. It has come about in an interesting way. I have a particular interest in this as a member and as the chair of our Public Accountability and Works Committee to which this matter will come. As has been noted, the committee has already received a self-referral in relation to the matter from its three Labor members. Notably, it is asking the committee to look into not just Josh Murray but also the appointment of Emma Watts, who I understand is the NSW Cross-Border Assistant Commissioner. When I take a step back, our concern is with transparency and accountability, and I believe that the Public Accountability and Works Committee should be used to not just investigate and look at matters of public accountability but also come up with firm recommendations as to what we should be doing going forward.

Without having the benefit of going through the inquiry, I do not know if there is a case to answer in either of these cases. But I do know that there is a lot of consternation and confusion over whether or not a captain's pick can be made and whether or not a process needs to be gone through. The Greens' perspective is that we are concerned to make sure that very clear information is given to the public about the process so that people can then be held accountable accordingly. If Josh Murray, for example, was a captain's pick, we just need to be clear about it so that the captain who made the pick can be held accountable should that person not perform in that role. But if we are going to run a recruitment process and then point to that recruitment process as the reason that the person got appointed, then that does give cover to the relevant Minister. It is important that we work out the situations in which a captain's pick can and cannot be made, and how that is communicated to the public, so that everyone can understand exactly what the level of accountability is for that decision. That is the basis that we are working on.

In the course of the consulting inquiry, we have already found a huge amount of money being spent on recruitment consultants. To the extent that that is not necessary, that gives me real cause for concern. I am vexed by the issue of putting in the reference to the NSW Cross-Border Assistant Commissioner at this point, and I am also vexed by the short period being suggested for running this inquiry.

It would be better if the Public Accountability and Works Committee was given the discretion and the respect to be able to work out where the inquiry can be slotted in, what hearings the committee can have and, based on that, what reporting date would make sense to the committee secretariat, because it is already overworked in relation to the consulting inquiry. The committee would appreciate having the discretion to choose its own reporting date. Given that the committee already has a referral that mentions the Cross-Border Assistant Commissioner and that I, as chair, intend to run a fair inquiry, I do not object to the naming of Emma Watts in this motion. For that reason, with a possible amendment to take out that the committee reports by a certain date, The Greens are happy to support Labor's amendments.


Read the full debate including the original motion and the outcome, in Hansard here.

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