Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 13 Hansard (4 December) . . Page.. 4357..
MR MOORE (continuing):
the Liberals and the Greens put together to protect small shopping centres. It is a very small Bill that is about Christmas cheer. It is about saying that Christmas is a special time. Christmas, and the new year period that follows it, is a time particularly for those who enjoy shopping. I must say that I am not one of those; I do it, but I do it reluctantly. I hate it. For those who do hate shopping, some of them, like me, prefer to shop when there are fewer people around, and this Bill would provide the opportunity if the shops were able to make the hours available. In other words, it would put the decision back to the shops to make a market decision about what are the best hours, whether it would be to the benefit of the people, what is their response to the demand.
This is a very sensible move. If Mr De Domenico had stood up and said, "We think this is a bad idea because 9 December is too early; it really should be from 13 December. And 8 January is too late; it really should take into account just the post-new year period; it should be 2 January", I would say, "That is logical. I can understand the commonsense in that. You have a slight difference in view, and therefore an amendment would be an appropriate way to go on this legislation". Instead, they go about knocking it off.
Of course, their co-conspirators, the Greens, are in exactly he same frame of mind. It is the Greens who have been very keen - and I think rightly so - to seek to have legislation amended so that it comes out the way they believe it should come out. Why have they not done it here? They have gone into this phobic view, this very narrow view, this telescopic vision, saying, "Aha, trading hours! All we can do with trading hours is make sure they are restricted so that we can protect shopping centres". This has nothing to do with protecting local shopping centres at this stage. This is about a short break for Christmas. It is a very sensible piece of legislation, and I would ask you to consider that and to review your position. If the Greens have a problem with specific dates, a hand-drawn amendment now would be very simple. It is just a matter of saying, "Omit 9, substitute 13", and "Omit 8, substitute 2", for example. It is not a difficult amendment to draw; anybody could do it now, and you could have a very sensible approach, instead of this hardline approach that has been taken by the Greens and the Libs over trading hours.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Moore made a reference to a possible reflection on previous votes of the Assembly. I would remind members that on 27 August 1996 I gave a ruling that, as far as I was concerned, that rule should not be interpreted in such a way as to prevent a reasonable expression of views on matters of public concern, and I hold to that view.
Mr Moore: On a point of order: Under standing order 46, Mr Speaker, just to clarify it, I was saying that Mr Wood pushed it, but I do accept your ruling and I think it is a good ruling.
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (11.01): As Mr De Domenico has indicated, the Government does not support the legislation, and I would like to explain why. Let me, first of all, pick up some points Mr Wood made in the course of his comments. He described the exemption the Government has announced in the last 24 hours as an admission of a mistake. Let me ask the question: If granting exemptions is an admission of a mistake, why, then, was the power to grant exemptions in the legislation in the first place?