Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 6 Hansard (23 June) . . Page.. 2558..
MRS CROSS (continuing):
I will be supporting Mr Smyth's motion as I believe that the possibility of having seven months between sittings means that regulations could be in place for too long without Assembly scrutiny and approval.
MR SMYTH (Leader of the Opposition) (8.03): Mr Speaker, the speeches of the government are unfortunate: Mr Stanhope says, "Nobody is going to stop me from doing my job."Nobody is asking you to stop doing your job. What we are asking you is to do your job in a timely fashion, so the rest of us can do our job, which is to scrutinise what you do. That is what we are paid to do. If substantial blocks of regulations come in that are attached to bills that are passed in the next couple of weeks, and the last couple of weeks, we will not be able to do our job.
I made the point in my speech, if you bothered to listen, Mr Chief Minister, that we understood that the right to move disallowance would not disappear and the right to a disallowance travels across from one Assembly to the next. I said that, because I too, have read the act. The problem with it is that, in this case, some of the timeframes may mean that, from August to February, new regulations will be put in place that will go for five, six or seven months, depending on certain dates, without having had the benefit of the scrutiny of the Assembly.
The Chief Minister said that what we are saying is that no regulations can be made. This is a disingenuous approach, because I said that we understood that, for acts passed before this sitting period and the next, there might be the need to make new regulations and that we accepted that. What I am saying is that, because of the number of bills-and the list of bills was expanded by other members who added to it the FMA and the health practitioners act-there are substantial amounts of work to be done in the last couple of weeks. Because of the way we now legislate and the emphasis we put on regulation, substantial blocks of regulations will go unchecked for three to six months. That was the whole point of this motion.
What we are asking you is to do your job in a timely fashion because surely, if you are ready to pass these bills, you have the regulations in them and ready to go. What we are asking you to do is either table the regulations when we debate the bills or table the regulations as soon as possible, that is, before 16 August, so we can do our job.
Mr Quinlan said that you will not break the caretaker convention and I am sure that you would not. There is no purpose in breaking the caretaker convention because, in a campaign period, you would be caught doing it. Nobody is that stupid. Mr Quinlan also said you would govern well, that we should trust you and that we were being childish. Have you governed well? That is up to the electors. Trust you: no, we do not. Is the opposition being childish? No, the opposition is doing its job, which is to keep you under scrutiny, and we will do it right up to election day.
So, the purpose of this motion was to say simply, "Do your job in a timely fashion so we can do our job."I note that the numbers are against the motion. Perhaps it is something that we need to address with regard to regulations: when bills are passed, we often do take on trust-you did it with us and we do it with you-that governments will ensure that the regulations mirror the sentiment of the bill that was passed in the Assembly on