Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for JUSTICE, Ms ARCHER
Independence of the judiciary from the executive is at the heart of the Westminster canon. I listened closely to your response to the earlier question. You misrepresented the detail of the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2020. You left out the complete reading of section 44(4), which says the minister must consult with the president before a person is appointed under subsection (1), which is the TASCAT selection process. The letter from TASCAT's president in June shows that you did not consult with him first, as the law requires, before you substantially rewrote the panel's recommendations. You broke the law, it appears. How do you explain that?
Mr Speaker, I thank the member for her question but clearly she was not listening. I followed the act to the letter and explained the process of receiving its advice. I do not have to take that advice. It is my advice to the Governor. I did speak with the president. I will give you the dates. The appointments were not made by the Governor until 22 August 2022, long after I had consulted with the president.
Importantly, when I met with the president, we discussed that the need for TASCAT members to be impartially independent was taken into account in my consideration of the suitability of applicants.
Dr Woodruff - What date was it that you met with the president?
Mr SPEAKER - Order.
Ms ARCHER - I met with the president on 1 July, prior to the appointments been made, as per the act. If you want me to read that section out - I was summarising for brevity; let me continue with what I want to say. The requirements of the TASCAT Act in respect of these appointments were absolutely followed. In making recommendations to the Governor, I had regard to the selection criteria, including the TASCAT code of conduct, which I have referred members to, that applied as per selection criterion 6.
The advice provided by the selection panel and the range of knowledge, expertise and experience required within the membership of the tribunal was considered. Further, I consulted with the president of TASCAT prior to any appointments being made by the Governor. I repeat, I met with the president on 1 July 2022 and the Governor made the appointments on 22 August 2022.
I do not know what the member thinks she has here. The president and I did meet. He express the views in that letter, but we had since met.
Dr Woodruff - Yes, that is right. After you had approved it.
Ms ARCHER - No.
Dr Woodruff - Yes. You did not meet with him to discuss your changes. I am just reading it.
Mr SPEAKER - Order.
Ms ARCHER - Mr Speaker, it is important to understand that in accordance with section 44 of the TASCAT act, these appointments were made by the Governor. While the appointments were made based on my advice as the minister responsible, I did not personally make the appointments.
Any views I expressed, I expressed to the Department of Justice prior to meeting with the president about who I considered - this is important - should be appointed, did not, and could not, amount to an appointment.
Mr O'Byrne - The Governor is not going to strike out your recommendations.
Mr SPEAKER - Member for Franklin, order.
Ms ARCHER - I did not make an appointment. I met with the president -
Mr O'Byrne - What is the constitutional convention on appointments?
Mr SPEAKER - Order. Member for Franklin, any more comments and you will be asked to leave the Chamber. The Attorney-General is answering the question. She should not be continually interjected on.
Ms ARCHER - Anything you think about messages to the Department of Justice, that is not me making an appointment. That is not the appointment. The Governor makes the appointment. At all times, I complied with the act.
Dr Woodruff - Your approval was given in a minute.
Opposition members interjecting.
Ms ARCHER - I have read out selection criterion 6, which is what I based my difference of opinion on, which I discussed with the president and those matters were agreed.
Mr Speaker, I will say it again: I have followed the sections that I have read out to members, including section 44. Section 44 (3) of the act provides that members are to be appointed having regard to any selection criteria applying under section 43(a) and (b).
What I did was refer to the selection criteria through the information package criterion 6.
Mr Speaker, I will say it again, I do not know what the member for Franklin thinks she has here, but I have given the dates, and at all times followed the process.