Portfolio Responsibilities

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking questions of the Leader of Government Business regarding the ministerial processes for portfolio responsibility and regular referrals to my office by ministerial officers.

Leave granted.

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: Last week, on top of a recent interaction I had with the police minister’s office that members may recall, I received a letter from a senior business support officer on behalf of the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure in response to my inquiry on behalf of a constituent. In this constituent inquiry, I was seeking advice on a disability parking permit related matter.

In the response letter, the minister’s office referred the matter to the Minister for the Public Sector, the Hon. John Rau MP in the other place, despite, as far as my understanding is, the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure being responsible for disability parking permits. I will quote the letter for impact. It closes, ‘If you have any queries regarding your correspondence, please contact the office of the Hon. Kelly Vincent MLC.’ While I would hope that this is just another administrative error or something of a Freudian slip, I will seek clarification from the relevant minister’s office. My questions for the Leader of Government Business are:

  1. Does the state Labor government have a policy of referring issues relating to disability matters to my office?
  2. How do ministers’ offices determine whether a matter is the responsibility of their office or an alternate minister?
  3. How is a decision made in ministers’ offices as to whether the minister, a delegated staff member, a departmental chief executive or another staff member will respond to letters from members of parliament?

The Hon. R.I. Lucas interjecting:


The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Employment, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation, Minister for Automotive Transformation, Minister for Science and Information Economy): I thank the honourable member very much for her questions. Obviously, I can’t speak about how other minister’s offices operate. I worked many years ago in one minister’s office, and obviously I work in another minister’s office at the moment. Certainly, it is generally the case that you would seek to provide an answer as efficiently and as effectively as possible and that would be on a case-by-case basis as to who would be in the best place to provide that.

I know that in my office, often if I have questions raised by other members of parliament and I can find an answer to that quickly then I will give them a quick phone call or write to them about what the answer will be. I know that in areas that have very high amounts of correspondence, there are dedicated officers both within the minister’s office and the department to help reply to inquiries, whether they be from other members of parliament or constituents. If there is a particular concern the honourable member has, I am happy to talk to her afterwards to see if there is anything I can help her out with.