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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 10 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 3599..


MRS DUNNE (continuing):

This is a simple, straightforward request that would have taken 27 seconds, but Mr Corbell has to be churlish, as is always the case. He has to decline leave and, as a result, take up more time of the Legislative Assembly. This is a straightforward matter. It just shows the extent of churlishness from the manager of government business.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water, Minister for Energy and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (3.43): I note that Mrs Dunne raised this matter with my office and with representatives of the Greens earlier today. As I indicated to Mrs Dunne's office prior to her seeking leave this afternoon, I am not in a position to agree to her request to seek leave.

The reason for that is that this not a petition; this is a form letter—things that are very common in this place. This is not a petition; it is not even worded as a petition. It is a form letter, albeit an eloquent and well-put one. It is a form letter; it is not developed as a petition.

The Assembly should have some regard to the forms of this place. The forms of this place are that when people sign a petition when they do not construct the petition in a way which is consistent with the standing orders, a member can seek to table it as an out-of-order petition. Those are accepted in due course because the intent of the people who are signing a petition is quite clear.

That does not mean that we simply grant leave for the tabling of whatever other documents members feel they wish to table. In this particular instance, on the basis of the documents that Mrs Dunne has provided to my office—she provided two of the types of letters she wishes to table—the documents are not in the form of a petition; they are in the form of a form letter, a form letter which a series of people have signed and provided to Mrs Dunne.

I respect absolutely Mrs Dunne's right, willingness and responsibility as a member to raise these concerns in the Assembly. But the nature of the form that she wishes to use is not the appropriate one. I have indicated to Mrs Dunne that it is most appropriate that they be tabled in the context of any debate around an attempt by a member of this place to prohibit battery cage production here in the ACT or through an adjournment debate.

To construct it as an out-of-order petition—this is my real concern—opens up the prospect of saying that anything that a member deems to be a petition is a petition and therefore it should be tabled and leave granted. The bottom line is that it is not a petition. It is not constructed as a petition. For Mrs Dunne to seek to table it as an out-of-order petition is an abuse of the forms of this place.

The government are not going to have a big argument about this, but we are simply going to make the point that we should have some regard to the forms of this place, the way petitions are viewed and the way petitions are presented to this place. This is not a petition; it is a form letter. Members receive form letters in this place all the time. It is not a petition; it is not even an out-of-order petition.


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