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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 4 Hansard (10 April) . . Page.. 1347..


MR SPEAKER: To be fair, it was my oversight that allowed the motion to run and I had to correct that later on.

Estimates 2008-2009—Select Committee

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (6.13): I think it is worth briefly reflecting on the issues in relation to the debates in this place earlier this afternoon. I would reject absolutely any assertion that this is an abuse of the forms or an attempt to ignore the forms of this Assembly. I think the experience of majority government is not exactly that which will be put forward by the Liberal Party or indeed by the crossbenchers, who, of course, do have a very strong vested political interest in seeking to portray majority government under a Labor administration as a bad thing.

Whether or not the Liberals would seek to take a similar approach if they were in the majority is yet to be seen. Hopefully, we will never have to deal with such an occurrence. But I think it is well worth making the point that those who comment on their perceived inadequacies of majority government under a Labor administration do so from a very biased political perspective.

Nevertheless, I would like to place on the record a few things about the events this afternoon. The first is that the government did provide a very considerable period for debate on all the issues that were proposed for discussion in the Assembly this afternoon. At no time did the government seek to curtail the introduction of new issues into those debates.

Indeed, in relation to the motion for the establishment of the select committee on estimates, the government actually permitted a considerable period for debate. But what became apparent about two-thirds of the way through that debate was that the opposition was seeking to re-agitate matters that had already been proposed and spoken to in amendments already circulated in this place and dealt with by this place. So it is not a case of new matters not being able to be discussed that had not already been raised and debated during that discussion. They had been.

The difference between majority government and minority government is not that the government will abuse its majority; the difference is that the government will not permit members to agitate matters in a way which results in tedious repetition. Indeed, one of the real problems and the experience of a minority government has been that it results in everyone needing to have their say ad nauseam. I think anyone who has been in this place when there has been a minority government would know that you go to the other extreme of repeating ad nauseam people's positions and statements to that effect, with very little real purpose or meaning.

The government seeks to strike the balance between providing for the timely execution of business in this place, the ability for members to raise all the issues of legitimate concern to them and to have them voiced in the debate and then the matter put to the vote. That is the balanced approach that we seek to adopt. Of course that will not always please members of the opposition or, indeed, members of the crossbench, but it does not mean an abuse of the forums of this place.


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