Select Committee on the 2026 Commonwealth Games Bid

18 Oct 2023

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The Greens supported the motion in the other place for the Premier to appear before the Select Committee on the 2026 Commonwealth Games Bid. It is not about political pointscoring, it is about the principles of transparency and accountability. It is more than reasonable that the Premier appear to answer questions particularly about the decision-making process in regard to the Commonwealth Games. This was a major project. To put it bluntly, this was a pretty big deal when the government first announced it. I think some of us might have even baulked at just the initial price tag of the Commonwealth Games, but we were assured by the government that there were going to be significant benefits in relation to this project and it required the significant government money, time and energy that went into this project.

It is entirely appropriate now that the Commonwealth Games have been cancelled and that they have now effectively gone from being ‘the Commonwealth Games’ to only being referred to as ‘a 12-day sporting event’ that the Parliament be allowed to scrutinise what has occurred and why and where the money has gone and what has been the decision-making process and what were the actual benefits of this Commonwealth Games project. Certainly having seen just part of what has already occurred in terms of the select committee there is a need for even more scrutiny. We have just had a 1-hour appearance by two ministers responsible for delivering the legacy respectively, much of the time taken up by Dorothy Dixers from the government, with many relevant departments not being there or only getting to contribute when the minister called on them, so there is definitely a need for more scrutiny of the Commonwealth Games.

I also just finally want to touch on the argument put forward by the government in relation to the Westminster system – that somehow the differences between the two houses should mean that the Premier should not appear before a committee. This is false. It is already there within the standing orders for the upper house to request a member of the lower house to appear before a committee. Even the most cursory research would find that there are multiple examples with Westminster systems where you have actions by one member taken in another place. We have had Treasurers sit in the upper house and be requested to come to the lower house to deliver budget speeches. We have got upper house ministers in Tasmania regularly appearing before the lower house to answer questions in relation to their portfolios. I will just read you this line from a research paper on the federal Parliament’s website:

Furthermore, while members of the House of Representatives (including its ministers) are accountable (in the context of parliament) only in the House, and senators are accountable only to the Senate, there are provisions in the Standing Orders to enable minsters from one house appearing before the other or its committees.

This is a standard practice within Westminster governments. The two houses do interact. They may be separate in the passage of bills and other mechanisms, but they do interact and there are provisions for ministers to appear before committees of other houses. It is entirely consistent with the Westminster system. It is entirely appropriate in this instance for this house to have the Premier appear before the select committee on the Commonwealth Games, and I would urge the house to oppose this motion preventing the Premier from appearing.

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