NT Government Abolishes Legislative Scrutiny Committee
The ABC News has reported that the NT Goverment has “quietly axed the committees it created to scrutinise proposed laws and reversed changes it promised would increase transparency and accountability”.
Apparently, the changes were not flagged in advance, but Leader of Government Business Natasha Fyles told Parliament that “the changes were not significant and voters “want us to get on with the job”.”
The ABC News report says:
"The scrutiny committee has existed in its current form since Labor rolled the social and economic policy committees into one body in November.
It consisted of three government and two non-government members, who considered submissions on proposed laws from non-government groups and members of the public.
The original committees were introduced after Labor won office in 2016. The Government said they would help create "open and transparent government" and help restore trust after the tumultuous Giles government period."
Mrs Robyn Lambley (Independent Member for Araluen) told the ABC News that the changes would “erode democracy”.
About the Committee
According to the Northern Territory Government, the role of the Committee is to “inquire into and report on any matter referred to it by the Assembly, a Minister or on its own motion and any Bill referred to it by the Assembly to consider whether the Assembly should pass the Bill or amend the Bill and whether the Bill has sufficient regard to the rights and liberties of individuals and the institution of Parliament”.
Thehas already this year tabled reports for some significant NT Bills, including:
- Firearms Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 (No 121 of 2020);
- Judicial Commission Bill 2020 (No 125 of 2020); and
- Treaty Commissioner Bill 2020 (No 119 of 2020).
Reaction and Comment
In a Media Release of 20 October 2020, the President of the Law Society of the Northern Territory, Maria Savvas, said:
The President went on to say that the “… Committee played an important and vital role in promoting good governance in the Northern Territory and the Society sees no evidence to suggest that its continued existence would in any way hinder the government’s ability to get on with the job of governing”.
In the view of the Law Society, if it was reinstated, it would assist in restoring the community’s faith in the parliamentary system and called on the Northern Territory Government to reconsider its decision and reinstate the Committee.
Reacting to the news of the Committee shutdown, Opposition Leader, Lia Finocchiaro said that a move by the Chief Minister indicates “... arrogance and hubris”. Speaking to Alice Springs News Online, Mrs Finocchiaro said that by closing down the Committee:
TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.