The Quiet Work of Parliament
One of the rarely seen, but very productive parts of Parliament is the work of Committees. At the core of the Committee work is the bi-partisan, friendly and co-operative nature of the work while being exposed to the same set of details and facts.
Committees are typically set up based on certain topics. The MPs are appointed to be part of a Committee often based on their own personal interests or backgrounds. And of course you cannot have everyone doing the “fun” Committee work and nobody wanting to do the “less fun” staff, so MPs also get placed onto Committees that they might have less interest in.
Over the past 12 years I have been on a host of Committees that, prior to participating, I had little knowledge about. Without doubt these have been some of the most interesting Committees of all. As Dr Seuss would say “the more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn the more places you’ll go”. So true.
One of the most exciting parts of the Committee work is the genuine reach into communities for expertise and opinions. Sometimes we hear from residents that will be directly affected by something that the Government is thinking about doing. At that same time we might also be hearing from some of the world’s leading experts in that field as well as Company CEOs, scientists, local progress associations, and everything in-between. Committee work is a time when every citizen in NSW can speak directly to the work of Parliament.
In this new Parliament of NSW I have been fortunate enough to become Chair of a number of Committees and participant in others. I am currently Chair of the Planning and Environment Committee as well as the Chair of the Community Services Committee. The Planning and Environment Committee is considering the proposed offshore drilling for gas and petroleum known as PEP11, which has a possibly very complicated mix of state law and how it would work within/alongside of federal law.
I am also Deputy Chair of the Public Accounts Committee which fundamentally follows the income and expenditure of our State Budget, working very closely with the NSW Auditor General and her team. Many of you will know that I have been deeply and consistently following our NSW State Budget since I was first elected 12 years ago and I am really excited about this role.
And, of great interest to our community, I am also a participating Committee Member that is following the important changes taking place in the delivery of health services in our rural, regional and remote communities. An Upper House Inquiry two years ago made 44 recommendations to improve health outcomes in these non-city communities (like ours) and the Government has said it would implement all 44 recommendations! So its our job, this Committee’s job, to keep them honest.
I am looking forward to all of these Committee tasks in this term of the NSW Parliament. And I am particularly looking forward to working with my colleagues, of all political stripes, away from the Parliament itself. It may surprise you, but almost all of us get along extremely well with each other and genuinely respect each other’s opinions.
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