15 Aug KATTER CALLS OUT LABOR’S MOCKERY OF ESTIMATES
Government MPs would be banned from asking certain questions and Ministers forced to table pre-written responses in what Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter has described as a necessary shake-up of the Queensland Parliament’s “undemocratic” Estimates process.
Mr Katter said the annual Estimates, held in Brisbane over the last two weeks in relation to the 2023-24 Budget, had become a nauseating, extended version of Question Time, filled with “Dorothy dixers”, political grand-standing and scrutiny-dodging.
He labelled the use of long, pre-written responses by Ministers, who are paid at least $327,000 a year, as embarrassing and cowardly, and indicated a lack of awareness of one’s portfolios.
“No one is served by this process, the least of all the people of Queensland who are basically being hoodwinked by a Government that disrespects the public interest,” Mr Katter said.
“Given Queensland’s unicameral parliament and therefore the critical value of Estimates for the purpose of scrutiny, I do believe radical changes need to be enforced and applied irrespective of which party is in Government.
“Too many Ministers are now reading responses, and this provides insight on multiple levels and in particular indicates that questions from Government MPs are a pre-meditated set-up.
“This enables and ensures less scrutiny of the Queensland Government, and we are all poorer for that.”
Mr Katter also lamented a lack of opportunities for cross-bench and Opposition MPs to question Ministers, who are often deliberately or inadvertently protected by a Government Committee Chair.
“This scarcity exists around the opportunities for non-Government MPs to publicly question and interrogate the government position, and that is a critical component to ensuring the best outcomes for the people,” he said.
“Any objective observer of Question Time or Budget estimates could tell that Government members asking their own Ministers questions given to them by their own party adds nothing of value to the political process.
“Other states don’t have the Government asking questions of themselves.
“We need the committees to be run independently, limit long written responses by Ministers or force the tabling them, and severely limit or remove questions from Government MPs to Ministers.”
Mr Katter said he would speak to fellow crossbench and Opposition MPs to initiate a process to restore democracy to the Budget Estimates process.