Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 2 Hansard (1 March) . . Page.. 487..
MR BERRY (continuing):
The Assembly can express its disapproval until it's blue in the face.
I ask the minister: will he repudiate that statement unequivocally, and will he advise the Assembly whether Mr Tonkin has reversed his decision?
MR HUMPHRIES: In answer to the second part of that question, I do not know whether Mr Tonkin has yet received this request from the nurses federation. I have just had supplied to me a copy of a letter from the nurses federation to me. I do not know whether Mr Tonkin has seen it or not. I am sure that when Mr Tonkin does he will consider a revised form of advertisement which the nurses have submitted for placement on government payroll slips. Since they have taken out those offending words, it may be more eligible for inclusion.
As far as the first statement is concerned, we have very clearly established ways in this place, by convention built up over the 11 years this place has been in existence-
Mr Berry: Will you repudiate it?
MR HUMPHRIES: Listen and you will hear something, Mr Berry. Over the last 11-in fact, nearly 12-years we have built up very clear conventions about the way in which this Assembly works. We have a clear distinction in this place between the Assembly expressing a view about something and the Assembly instructing the government in such a way that the government faces consequences if it fails to act in the way the Assembly has indicated.
An example of such an instruction to the government was the motion which was put, although not debated in the end, instructing the government to convene an inquiry, under the Inquiries Act, into disability services in the ACT. That is the sort of instruction the government ignores at its peril. But yesterday the motion you moved expressed the Assembly's disapproval of what the government-
Mr Berry: It rejected it.
MR HUMPHRIES: All right, you rejected the government's decision. If the nurses have put forward a different formula to include in the government's pay slips, then Mr Tonkin, not I, will consider that as appropriate and make a decision in accordance with the guidelines. If the Assembly, however, disagrees so violently with the decision that he makes as to believe it cannot live with that decision, then the answer is for the Assembly to pass a resolution instructing the government to include certain things in the pay slip if that is what you want.
Mr Berry: Would you like to do it now?
MR HUMPHRIES: It is up to you, Mr Berry. There is a well-established way to make the Assembly pass resolutions to compel the government to act. You have been here as long I have. You know how those things work. If you want to make the government do something, then you move the motion in the appropriate way.