Tuesday, 16 January 2024
MEMBER for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall has today condemned the State Government over its decision to dramatically slash the number of Parliamentary sitting days this year, by several weeks.
This year the Parliament is scheduled to sit for only 45 days. This is the lowest number for a full 12-month schedule in more than 13 years, since Kristina Keneally was Premier.
“This decision significantly reduces the ability for the Parliament and local MPs to raise matters of concern to their communities, ask questions on the record and hold the government to account,” Mr Marshall said.
“I am very concerned about what this means for transparency and accountability in decision making and I think the public should be too.
“Reducing the number of sitting weeks is even more extraordinary from a minority government, which relies on crossbench MPs for support, each of whom wants more sitting days to put forward and debate their private members business and Bills.
“Less sitting days means less scrutiny of the government and while the Premier may welcome this, regardless of who is in power, it only serves to erode our democratic institutions and denies people’s voices to be heard and issues to be properly debated and discussed.”
Mr Marshall said the public deserved to know why the government had slashed the sitting days this year, which could not be justified by a lack of parliamentary business.
“While the government has a scant legislative agenda, especially for one recently elected, the enlarged crossbench and opposition has a large number of Bills on the notice paper waiting for parliamentary time to debate them,” he said.
“This decision curtails the time allocated for Parliament to consider non-government business, effectively guillotining and debate and votes on matters the government may not want to discuss.
“As Opposition Leader Chris Minns said he would increase transparency and accountability around decision-making when he came to power, but instead, he has just dramatically reduced it.
“This is a grossly disappointing outcome for anybody who values and cherishes our democratic institutions, for MPs who represent their local communities and oversight of executive government.
“This ‘cavalier’ attitude toward accountability and public debate concerns me greatly and makes me question whether in this age of Presidential style governing, our democracy and its institutions are being wilfully and blithely dismantled.”