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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Sunshine the best detergent

From the Sydney Morning Herald tonight under the headline MP admits deliberately misleading parliament over signing blank forms:
Penrith Labor MP Karyn Paluzzano (who resigned earlier in the week as a parliamentary secretary) admitted at a corruption inquiry today she misled parliament by signing either blank or partly completed staff payment forms....Asked at this afternoon's hearing whether she had knowingly signed false and misleading forms, Ms Paluzzano answered: "That is correct."....Asked if she had signed either partly filled-in, or blank, forms Ms Palazzano gave the same response, and when asked whether she had deliberately misled parliament, she answered: "I accept that."...During today's hearing, it was also alleged that she rorted her electoral mail account by sending out mail that had not been approved by the clerk of the Legislative Assembly as is required.
The ICAC hearing continues.

From a post  here on 19 June 2009:

When asked in the Legislative Council yesterday about why the NSW Parliament would not be subject to the Government Information (Public Access) Bill the Attorney General John Hazistergos said it was a silly question and that the President of the Legislative Council and the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly had explained the reasons for the decision. He said citing examples of where this had occurred elsewhere, like the UK, was inappropriate "cherry picking" because " how we do business in this Parliament, the checks and balances that exist in New South Wales are not replicated in every other jurisdiction" and "freedom of information legislation in this State and throughout Australia is about keeping the Executive accountable. There are other means for keeping the Parliament accountable."
Just what those means are is not apparent. And-if applying the law to the legislature poses a problem- why the Government has not asked Parliament itself to consider embracing higher standards of accountability and transparency has not been explained. The Attorney General has been a vociferous opponent of a Human Rights Bill or Charter for Australia on the basis that parliament, not unelected judges should strike the right balance in protecting rights. Yet when it comes to a system to ensure the right to know about the day to day operations of Parliament in spending the $123 million allocated in this week's state budget, it is not even a topic worth discussing.

So no more pesky questions please about the $100 million in the Budget for "Members' Support" or how much each member is paid in entitlements or how travel, electoral or other allowances are spent. Just look forward with anticipation to next year's annual report for a few high level details.
Trust us, we're the NSW Parliament.
Perhaps time for more questions and reconsideration, Attorney General, or can we be confident Ms Palazzano is a one off, and no repeats are likely?

Tasmania is the only Australian jurisdiction to properly address this issue extending the Right to Information Act to commence on 1 July to the parliament in respect of matters of an administrative nature. 

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