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Proposal for Handling Cabinet Documents

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 22 June 2023

Tags: Transparency, Parliament, Stadium, Macquarie Point, AFL

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Speaker, I rise to note the ministerial statement and to acknowledge we are here because the Government did not comply with an order of the House on the production of documents on 1 June. That is a matter of great regret.

It is pleasing to see that there seems to be a renewed interest on the part of government in transparency and the conventions of a Westminster parliament. After nine years of abusing the processes of this place, that is a welcome shift.

Mr Speaker, we regard this move as a step forward. It is not ideal, because the House ordered the production of all documents relating to the stadium and the AFL licence and that included departmental advice. This is not an ideal situation we are in.

I agree with Ms White that at some level what the Premier is proposing here will improve transparency around the production of documents and understanding of what should be Cabinet-in-confidence in the future for all projects, not just the stadium and the AFL licence, and that is a positive move.

We are also glad to see that the Premier has agreed to our request, even though our motion was not passed, to provide to the House a list of the documents that went before Cabinet. It is unclear from the Premier's correspondence that that list will also include, for example, the date of those documents and the number of pages. We wait to see that. Given the often political nature of the Department of Premier and Cabinet - and this is under governments of all persuasions - if the intention is for DPAC to control this process, we are concerned. This should be a collaborative cross-jurisdictional analysis of what is the best model for here in cooperation with the parliament. We would like to see the Premier acknowledge the critical role of parliament in establishing this process.

There is some history here, so it is difficult not to be cynical because the Greens, over the course of this stadium issue, have lost trust in this Government and the Premier. We want to be able to trust the Premier and his Government ministers on matters such as this.

Parliament will return on 8 August and the kind of day that turns out to be is up to the Premier. At some level parliament has to take the Premier's ministerial statement, and the letter he wrote to members last night, at face value. It is kind of a third way through the documents impasse we are currently facing. However, we too are putting the Government on notice. We will be watching very closely.

I want to acknowledge that after a very difficult and brutal month for the Premier, last night, substantially for the first time, the Premier did reach across the Chamber and seek to negotiate an outcome here. That is very positive. It is the new world in this parliament. We are going to get the best outcomes for the Tasmanian people if there is much more of that conversation across the House.

What we have learned over the last month is that balance-of-power parliaments can deliver much greater transparency. They can be creative, dynamic, fluid and deliver really good evidence-based policies and outcomes for the Tasmanian people. We will always support a parliament of this sort of dynamism because we are seeing the results now, imperfect as they are, of parliament having the capacity to require real transparency of the government of the day. That is very positive.

We look forward to the list being tabled and we will examine it very carefully. We want to work with the Premier over the winter recess to make sure that he comes good on his promise to this place to establish a process around the production of documents and determinations on whether or not documents are Cabinet-in-confidence that will last in perpetuity and will work for this place and, most importantly, will work for the people we are elected to serve.

We are prepared, in this instance, on this day, at this moment, to cut the Premier a break. We will be watching him over the winter break and ready for 8 August if he fails to meet his promise to this place.