Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 9 Hansard (19 August) . . Page.. 3909..
MRS DUNNE (continuing):
privileges of a citizen in this place. The privileges of a citizen of the ACT in relation to this Assembly are very narrow, and they are very constrained by the resolution of May 1995.
I am concerned because, after both the Speaker and the standing committee had decided that this was not a frivolous or vexatious matter and the sort of thing that we could rule on out of hand-without divulging what was said-we discussed this for a very long time. That made it perfectly clear to me, and to any common observer, that this was a serious matter-a matter of sufficient import to take up well over an hour of the time of the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure.
That is one measure of the importance of the matter. The real issue here is: what role does the Assembly play in infringing the rights of the citizens of the ACT? Much of what we do, in one way or another, infringes the rights of people in the ACT. When a citizen comes and says, "Hey, hey! Enough is enough. I think I deserve my day in court!"I think we need to listen very carefully. We have huge privileges accorded to us in this place.
Once we are inside this place we are just about unconstrained in what we can say about people out there. Their only formal comeback is the citizen's right of reply. I think one of the really important things we need to take into account when considering the citizen's right of reply is the part of the standing orders that says that the members of the committee-and therefore, in a sense, the members of this Assembly-are not required to establish the veracity of what is being said.
I am not here today saying that what the Minister for Industrial Relations said was untrue or true; I am just saying that she said it. What I am asking by my motion today is that Mr Burke be given the opportunity to put his side of the case. It will be his side of the case. We will not make a judgment as to whether what he says is true or not. Those two statements will stand side by side. That will allow members of this place, and members of the wider community, to make up their own minds.
That is what my motion would do today. My motion today says, "Please do not accept the majority recommendation of this report."I have never done this before. I have never dissented from a report in the time that I have been here, and I have never moved a motion like this; but this is about people's access to a fair go. If we exercise our privilege to slag off at people, we need to be big enough to allow the people whom we have slagged off-that is what happened-to at least put their side of it, so that they can stand side by side.
This is about procedural justice and procedural fairness. What I ask members to do today is not to make any judgment about what Mr Burke said; not to make any judgment at all; but to ask the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure to open negotiations with Mr Burke so that his citizen's right of reply can be entered into Hansard, so that members here and members of the community can compare what the minister said about him and what he says in reply. Let them make up their own minds. This is about allowing people to make up their own minds.
MS DUNDAS (11.27): This is a very difficult issue to debate because of the constraints of the standing orders on us. Normally I do not like processes that constrain us in this