Consumer Affairs Constituents

08 Jun 2011 questionsarchive

I seek leave to make an explanation before asking the Minister for Consumer Affairs a question about consumer affairs constituents.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Yesterday, in response to my question without notice, the minister suggested that I was not being genuine in trying to assist a constituent by bringing the issue into the chamber rather than through formal consultation with her office, and she also suggested in her reply that as it was an operational matter she should not be expected to have an answer ready.

Honourable members may not be aware that I have written a number of letters on behalf of constituents in the past, and they have expressed dismay to me at the excessive turnaround, particularly when they are being disadvantaged, as the constituent was yesterday who cannot use his building licence until he fulfils the unreasonable requirements of OCBA. My questions for the minster are:

1. What is her advice to facilitate the fastest responses on behalf of my constituents: should I write letters to her or should I raise issues in parliament?

2. Was her inability to answer my question yesterday about the issue being an operational one or not having a typed briefing paper that she could quote from verbatim?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Public Sector Management, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Government Enterprises, Minister for Gambling) (14:40): What a churlish, childish, sensitive person the Hon. Michelle Lensink is, Mr President! I can't believe that she wants to waste the time of this chamber on such a churlish question, something that she is obviously incredibly sensitive about.

Members interjecting:


The Hon. G.E. GAGO: The Hon. Michelle Lensink asked in this place yesterday a specific question about an individual and their building licence. It might surprise the opposition—I find it incredible that it would surprise them—but I guess I am beyond being surprised these days in terms of the lacklustre performance of the opposition. Nevertheless, this is the reality: ministers do not go around holding in their heads the individual cases of individual members in relation to building licence applications.

It might shock some members in this place that I do not hold the details of an individual's application for a building application. I do not carry that around in my head and, God forbid, nor can I remember whether or not that person corresponded with me. I know that is a shock to everyone here, but I cannot remember whether or not that particular individual corresponded with me. That is simply because of the amount of correspondence I receive. In particular, if it is of an operational nature, I expect the agency to deal with it. It goes through a process, where it goes through to the agency to be dealt with, and it is expected that they deal with it expeditiously.

If that is not the case—and I put this on the record in this place yesterday—members may find a problem, or there is a loophole. We do our best, but sometimes it is not always good enough, and I accept that. Those cases do arise, as they have from time to time in the past, but, I have to say, not on too many occasions. When it comes to consumer affairs, they are pretty efficient generally; they are hardworking and do a very good job generally. However, when there are such instances, I have invited members in this place to contact me or my officers, and I seek to assist to overcome any problem that is identified as expeditiously as I possibly can.

The honourable member was so sensitive that I called her on that yesterday. I asked a question of her—that is, how genuine was she, given the response of my officers in the past to these inquiries. I called her on it yesterday, and she is so precious and churlish about it that she had to come back and have another go today and waste even more of our time. I gave her a response yesterday. I said I would follow up those details as quickly as I possibly could and deal with the matter as quickly as I possibly could. I gave that commitment yesterday and, yes, it is 24 hours later, and I have passed the information on. I know that my officers are very busy beavering away, dealing with that issue as best they can, as fast as they can.
I am not too sure what else I can do here today. I am not too sure how much more of this chamber's time we need to waste in relation to the questions that the Hon. Michelle Lensink has asked.