Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 2 Hansard (9 March) . . Page.. 517..
DR FOSKEY (continuing):
perhaps it is a reflection of what majority government does to people, even when the intentions are the best. So I am disappointed. I see the government are not supporting the Liberals' motion and I just wonder when we are going to deliver to the women of Canberra on this issue.
MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (10.47): Dr Foskey raises a number of very good points, one of the best of which is the fact that Assembly business is always dealt with on Thursdays and we have 45 minutes for it. What Mrs Burke, as I understand it, is asking for is that Dr Foskey's motion be debated, which yesterday everyone thought was very important, including the Chief Minister, who was ranting and raving about how important it was and how that should be done. Forty-two minutes is all that is apparently being asked for-three minutes short of what would happen in Assembly business anyway, which we have on Thursdays. What Mrs Burke and Dr Foskey are asking for is eminently sensible in terms of this very important motion that Dr Foskey has moved and that was interrupted because the government interfered with private members' business yesterday.
The government cannot have it two ways. Either Dr Foskey's motion is important or it is not. The Chief Minister was railing about its importance yesterday, yet here we have the manager of opposition business, Mr Corbell, seeming to disagree with his boss there by saying: "No, no, no, there are much more important things. Dr Foskey's motion can be relegated to the next time we do private members' business."You cannot have it both ways; it is either important or it is not. It is quite extraordinary, too, for a government to interfere in a private members' day. I do not think this government has done it during the term of this Assembly. In fact, my recollection-I could be corrected here-is that this is the first time.
As Dr Foskey also indicates, it was quite inappropriate. It is the job of the opposition and the cross bench to raise legitimate questions. The practice in this Assembly in private members' business has been to let private members have the day-not only opposition members; it is a chance for government backbenchers to raise issues as well. The Assembly has done that, and this government and previous governments have respected that. Yesterday sets a very bad precedent in terms of interference with private members' business. Forty-two minutes is all that is asked for, and 42 minutes should be given by this Assembly. I am very disappointed, although hardly surprised, to see the government suddenly come up with a different view today, and a different attachment of relative importance to Dr Foskey's motion, from its view yesterday, when this was one of the most important things in the world and should be dealt with. Well, here is your chance to at least give it 42 minutes, and it is very disappointing that you are not prepared to do that.
MR QUINLAN (Molonglo-Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Business, Minister for Tourism, Minister for Sport and Recreation, and Minister for Racing and Gaming) (10.50): I have just a couple of comments. I do recall the motion yesterday and I think the motion was necessary at the time to protect the credibility of this house. But what I also recall is that the opposition participated in that debate. In fact, the opposition squealed when the government pulled the gag on it in order to get on with the Assembly business.
Mrs Burke: Well, you started it.