8 May 2024

Claims 'natural justice' not followed, ACT Greens MLA blocked from committee inquiry process

| Claire Fenwicke
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Jo Clay MLA

ACT Greens MLA Jo Clay made several claims about a committee inquiry process in her dissenting report. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

An ACT Greens MLA has made extraordinary claims she was “not permitted to contribute” to an inquiry being considered by the committee of which she is a member.

Jo Clay is a member of the Standing Committee on Environment, Climate Change and Biodiversity, which considered her bill to amend legislation to ban fossil fuel company advertising at Canberra’s sporting venues.

In her dissenting report, Ms Clay claimed the “usual practices and natural justice” were not followed by the committee.

“This inquiry was not run like any other inquiry that I have participated in,” she wrote.

Ms Clay claimed her status on the committee was “changed repeatedly” during the inquiry and felt she could neither advocate for an issue nor participate.

“At first, I was a full participating member. Then I was permitted to deliberate but not vote. Then I was not permitted to deliberate or participate,” she wrote.

“When I questioned Committee decisions on process, the Committee changed my status and I could not ask further questions.”

She also asked why the committee had considered a submission by Trade, Investment and Economic Development Minister Andrew Barr as representing the stance of the ACT Government.

Throughout the report, Mr Barr’s submission is referred to as coming from the ‘ACT Government’.

Emissions Reduction Minister Shane Rattenbury had also raised his concerns about this during the April sitting week, asking the committee to clarify the submission’s status.

“The committee has listed [Mr Barr’s submission] as being an ACT Government submission. In fact, it is not an ACT Government submission,” he said on 11 April.

“During the Cabinet process, I, Minister Davidson and Minister Vassarotti opposed the views contained in the submission. The result was that Cabinet agreed that this was provided as a submission from the Minister for Trade, Investment and Economic Development.”

The committee considered a written request from Mr Rattenbury to change the submission’s title but wrote on 30 April that it would decline to do so.

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Another claim by Ms Clay was that proper community consultation wasn’t carried out.

She wrote, “The Committee agreed to hold a public hearing on 26 March … [but then later] decided not to hold the previously planned public hearings.”

“The Committee concluded its deliberations and report without hearings to test the evidence. I did not take part in those deliberations.”

She questioned why she hadn’t been able to participate when it is common for MLAs to be the chief advocate or sponsor of an issue and a committee member considering it.

The committee report cast Ms Clay’s participation in a different light.

“As the Bill had been introduced by Ms Clay, she declared a conflict of interest, and chose to remain on the Committee but did not participate in deliberations on the inquiry,” it stated.

The committee chair is Dr Marisa Paterson, and the other member is Ed Cocks.

Dr Paterson provided a response to several questions from Region, which she said had been agreed to by all three committee members.

She wrote committee processes had been followed from “start to finish” and received advice from the Secretariat at each meeting, which it followed.

“Ms Clay had a significant conflict of interest in relation to this inquiry as the originator of the Bill,” Dr Paterson said.

“The Committee’s approach to managing Ms Clay’s participation in the inquiry changed throughout the process of the inquiry in response to issues as they arose.”

Dr Paterson said the committee hadn’t agreed to hold public hearings and had relied upon “independent advice” from the ACT Office of the Legislative Assembly “at all times”.

“Ms Clay’s statements in her dissenting report are not a committee position, and reflect the position of an individual member,” she said.

The inquiry report recommended Ms Clay’s bill not be passed by the Legislative Assembly.

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What could happen with Ms Clay’s claims from here is unclear.

The report was circulated outside of a sitting week but will be formally presented when the Legislative Assembly next meets from 14 May.

This will present an opportunity for a debate on the matters raised both in the committee report and Ms Clay’s dissenting report.

The Clerk and Committee Support office can provide advice on parliamentary procedure and practice, but cannot conduct an investigation.

It’s understood Ms Clay intends to refer the report and minutes to Public Sector Standards Commissioner Ian McPhee next week.

However, it’s most likely that he won’t be able to investigate either.

A spokesperson for the Commissioner’s office noted it doesn’t have jurisdiction in relation to members of the Legislative Assembly nor the activities of the Assembly.

“It would seem that this is a matter for the Assembly to address, noting there are processes within the Assembly for members to have their concerns considered,” they said.

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Of course Jo Clay is miffed! She is the most extreme of the Canberra Greens and would do anything to put her name out there and in the press in an election year!

A party of dysfunctional oddities attempting to reinvent themselves as a viable alternative in the lead up to this year’s election. I really do think Ms Clay and her party get their act together before lecturing the government on how to run business. It was only a number of weeks ago Ms Clay and her party colleagues were demanding that the government divest from companies linked to Israel despite them owning such shares themselves. Not to mention ongoing allegations of misconduct within the Greens party that Ms Clay and her colleagues chose to ignore!

Greens are conviction politicians, just ask ’em

Greens play fighting with Labor to make out they are different parties.
As seen before every election. Its the same as the woolworths select brand and homebrand. Its the samething inside but different labels.

Tom McLuckie9:01 pm 08 May 24

I didn’t see the Greens jump up and down when Peter Cain Liberal MLA was removed from a estimates committee for simply asking questions on behalf of a constituent regarding the seriously flawed Motor Accident Injuries ACT and it’s commissioner. Oh, I forgot, the Greens and Labor have a Governance Agreement that limits what they can question – and yet they claim they are a cross-bench. Committees by their nature have a 3 member group – sounds like sour grapes because even though Jo screamed loudly and threw her toys out of the pram, the other members ignored her – lesson in grown up politics for Jo and the Greens. They have used it to their advantage over the last 4 years!

I followed parts of this hearing. Peter Cain was asked to leave because he was being his usual rude and disruptive self. The questions he asked related to an individual matter, were out of order and contrary to the terms of the inquiry and annual report. He was hostile and intimidating towards committee members and those public officials giving evidence who were unable to answer questions on individual matters because of privacy issues.

In fact Tom McLuckie, you contributed to some of Mr Cain’s questions. You also made some disparaging and lengthy comments on your Facebook page after the hearing about Chris Steel and Suzanne Orr who participated in the inquiry. Mr Cain liked your comment which had generated some quite disgraceful comments at the time.

Mr Cain won his seat by a whisker. Hopefully after this year’s election we will see the back end of this blabbering old fool!

Anyone who raises issues about the hopelessly flawed MAI scheme deserves to be respected. Not sure what it is with most LA members who happily ignore the many inherent injustices and inequities.

You might well be right bigred! However, if Peter Cain and his party believe changes should be made to the Motor Accidents Bill, he can introduce a private members bill into the Assembly to amend it. It will then be debated in the Assembly and if successful, referred to a committee for inquiry.

Mr Cain will not do that, instead, he uses the assembly and its committee system to intimidate its members and public officials who are doing their jobs.

The Canberra Liberals and Mr Cain are too lazy and do not have the capacity for such initiatives!

Margaret Freemantle7:44 pm 08 May 24

The Greens might get a better hearing if they weren’t so obstructive!

Good outcome.

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