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Friday, September 26, 2008

Dorothy Dix deserved better

Given the new Premier of NSW Nathan Rees has already said he is committed to greater openness and transparency and to looking at world's best practice on Freedom of information issues, you would have thought he might do better than this, in response to a friendly question from one of his backbenchers in Parliament yesterday.(Legislative Assembly Hansard 25 September)
Mr Gerard Martin: My question is directed to the Premier. Will the Premier inform the House of measures to improve the transparency and accountability of the Government?
Mr Nathan Rees: I thank the member for Bathurst for his question on this most important matter. On day one of my premiership, I said that I was going to rebuild people's confidence in the administration of this Government step by step. That means more accountability and more transparency. We have heard a lot from members opposite today and on previous days about demands for more scrutiny of government, and I am going to give them what they wish.This year the Parliament sits in New South Wales for a record number of days—the most we have sat in 19 years. Next year we will break that record. Next year this Parliament will sit for an additional two weeks. And we can look forward to more sterling-quality questions, such as those we have had today.......That means that on current projections the jurisdiction of New South Wales will have more sitting days in Parliament than any other State or Territory or the Commonwealth....That means an additional two weeks of sittings that will make us the most scrutinised government of any Parliament in Australia...."
There was a bit more about sitting days in other jurisdictions, but that was it.I'm sure the Premier knows, but it will take more than extra sitting days to return the NSW Parliament to its proper role of holding the government to account on behalf of the people.Oh, and the Asssmbly adjourned yesterday until 21 October, then won't sit from mid December until early March 2009.

Unfortunately the Premier and whoever thought up the Dorothy Dix question didn't see the opportunity it provided for a comprehensive statement of how this government plans to deliver on the commitment.

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