BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Suspension of Standing and Sessional Orders: Order of Business
The Hon. JENNIFER GARDINER
[3.28 p.m.]: I move:
That standing and sessional orders be suspended to allow a motion to be moved forthwith that Private Members' Business item No. 238 outside the Order of Precedence, relating to an extension of the reporting date for the reference to General Purpose Standing Committee No. 4 relating to Badgerys Creek land dealings, be called on forthwith.
During the committee inquiry into the Badgerys Creek land dealings and planning decisions, which tabled its report last week, witnesses took a substantial number of questions on notice in the hearings. Committee members also submitted a number of written questions on notice to witnesses after each hearing. The witnesses provided a response to each of the questions on notice, with the exception of one witness, Mr Graham Richardson, a professional lobbyist. Mr Richardson appeared as a witness at the hearing on 19 October 2009. Following his evidence at that hearing, on 21 October 2009 the committee secretariat wrote to Mr Richardson to seek answers to a question taken on notice during the hearing, as well as to written questions on notice from committee members that were submitted after the hearing. Mr Richardson was requested to respond to the questions on notice by 28 October 2009. No response was received by the committee by that date.
On 4 November 2009 Mr Richardson indicated verbally to the committee secretariat that he would not be providing a response to the questions on notice. The committee did not receive written confirmation from Mr Richardson on that matter. On 11 November 2009, following a resolution of the committee, I wrote to Mr Richardson to request that he answer the questions on notice by 19 November 2009. The committee also submitted an additional written question on notice to Mr Richardson, which he was requested to answer by 19 November 2009. In that letter Mr Richardson was advised that should he decline to answer the questions on notice the committee would consider whether to issue him with a summons under section 4 of the Parliamentary Evidence Act to attend a hearing to give further evidence. Mr Richardson then provided an interim response to the questions on notice and questioned the authority under which the committee was acting. I responded to Mr Richardson the same day, detailing the committee's authority to seek answers to questions on notice.
The committee believes that the answers to the questions on notice given to Mr Richardson may add to or change the outcomes of the inquiry. Mr Richardson's failure to respond makes it problematic for the committee to complete the task given to it by the House. When this House referred the issues relating to Badgerys Creek land dealings and planning decisions to the committee, the House resolved that it report by 20 November 2009. The committee did report by that date, except on this one matter relating to Mr Richardson. The committee requires additional time to follow up those outstanding issues. Therefore, the committee has requested in its report that the reporting date be extended to Thursday 25 February 2010 so that it may examine this matter. I commend the request of the committee to the House and trust that the House will agree to the extension of time to report on this particular matter, the rest of the report having been tabled.
Question—That the motion be agreed to—put and resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Order of Business
Motion by the Hon. Jennifer Gardiner agreed to:
That Private Members' Business item No. 238 outside the Order of Precedence be called on forthwith.