Balneus

Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Saving the Goulburn-Murray Bill – Why no submissions published?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-01-27


Public submissions to the Commonwealth Saving the Goulburn and Murray Rivers Bill close Friday 2009-01-30, and unlike most Senate inquiries, when my submissions have been published within 1 or 2 working days, this is not the case for this inquiry: after the end of three working days mine isn’t published.  Actually, NO submissions from anyone have been published.

I hope it’s not because it’s a private member’s bill from a Liberal Party member.

I hope it’s not because Brumby’s North-South pipeline would probably be blocked by this bill, a pipeline with massive bipartisan public condemnation (especially from Goulburn and Murray catchment areas), where expected scathing criticism in submissions, and passage of the bill, would leave either or both federal and state ALP governments red-faced.

When you can see earlier submissions, you can write a more effective submission of your own, rebutting or quickly supporting points already made by others, and concentrating your efforts on arguments that have not been made.  This is more efficient for the public, and presents the Senate committee with a broader range of information to make their decisions.

Until the Senate publishes my submission, I must not publish it either, because at the very least, I’d lose parliamentary privileges.

But of course, I can tell you I’ve made a short submission (only a few paragraphs are required), and support the bill.

It cannot be because I got the email address (eca.sen@aph.gov.au) wrong, because I copied and pasted it from the Senate website.

I hope it’s not because the dog ate the email, because I’ve got the message id (9ddf8e180901202159k75ccbf2bs33b5eb11051836fd@mail.gmail.com) from Google to prove that Google got it.

Nevertheless, I cannot find any confirmation email from the Senate, despite these usually taking only one or two working hours from the time I send them.  There has never been a failure to send confirmation before that a message was received.  I’ve resent the email, along with a request for confirmation of the second message, and the audit details of the first so things can be checked.

I hope it’s not because the new and flawed Senate Submissions System, which had taken over the previous task of displaying submissions, has totally stuffed up the basics.

I doubt that I’m the first to make a submission, although it’s a bit hard to tell when submissions opened without digging, while normally, the "Information about the Inquiry" page states the day the senate inquiry opened for submissions.  It was back in December, from my very fallible memory.

I doubt that I’m the only one to make a submission: the Victorian Government and each one of the contractors reaping benefits from the rushed construction would have a significant interest in putting their case.

Not one submission has been published in about a month, although usually, the bulk of them come in the last week.

I doubt that parliamentary staff are overworked, because even the Howard government was able to publish over 100 submissions within 24 hours of the inquiry opening for the NT Emergency Response bill that had the public up in arms, and they would be expecting (correctly) many negative submissions.

HAS ANYONE ELSE SENT IN A SUBMISSION?  If so, did you get a confirmation from the Senate Committee that it had been received?

A while back, I was called in by a ministerial staffer (and a good guy too), to discuss how to make government consultations better, with topics including not only participation and administrative processes, but the metrics that could be used to measure the adequacy of those processes.

The timely publication of incoming submissions, for the reasons given above, was one of the key performance indicators we discussed.

I cannot understand it.  It makes no sense that the Rudd government cannot receive, acknowledge, and publish a submission that I know was transmitted at least as fast as the previous contemptible Howard regime…

… or was my optimism misplaced?

Any ideas and opinions folks?

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3 Responses to “Saving the Goulburn-Murray Bill – Why no submissions published?”

  1. It’s likely to be a far more mundane explanation of people on holiday and parliament yet to meet – the site says that the committee will decide on making submissions public.

  2. Dave Bath said

    Andrew:
    (1) The delay is unusually long… normally the check is simply “is this on-topic and not too defamatory/obscene”. This should only take ONE committee member per submissions a few seconds. This is where intentional delay is possible. Anyway, the “committee decides” bit is formulaic, and things still get published quickly for pretty much every Federal submission I’ve made (but not the Victorian submission I made on water supply)
    (2) It doesn’t explain the lack of a “thanks for your submission we are looking at it” confirmation email… while legcon.sen@aph.gov.au gets back next working day at the latest – and usually only a few office hours – and did so a couple of weeks ago, when MORE people were likely to be on holiday,
    (3) It /could/ be that the email address on the aph website was wrong. That would be incredible mismanagement.
    (4) It /could/ be that eca.sen didn’t get the email because aph couldn’t handle incoming email from google (I have the receipt from google, so I can prove google had it). Such an infrastructure failure is again, incredible mismanagement.

    Actually, your “mundane” suggestion about the committee deciding to publish unusually slowly is the most damning of the politicians of the lot, because that involves them deciding to be slower than usual! The rest are largely gross rudeness or mismanagement.

    By the way, submissions to the ag.gov.au in the past got a personalized response in 30 minutes. I replied to give an update where I’d missed something, and again, a personalized reply saying they’d made the replacement took less than 10 minutes.

  3. Dave Bath said

    Update comparing responsiveness between ECA and LegCon for acknowledgement they had received the submission here

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