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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2013 Week 14 Hansard (28 November) . . Page.. 4412..


available to them in this place to debate issues, to get into the detail of bills, to get into the detail of papers.

Mr Smyth says the government never brings back reports. The government brought back reports throughout this year, items on the notice paper that had been noted and adjourned, and there were no speakers—no speakers from the Liberal Party. They have nothing to say, nothing to talk about.

That is not our problem but it certainly does not give the Liberal Party any grounds to stand up and say that there is not enough time in the Assembly sitting calendar. The calendar is comprehensive. It provides a time to deal with all of the business of the Assembly, and I commend the proposed calendar as I have circulated to members.

MADAM SPEAKER: Mr Corbell, could I ask you to withdraw the imputation that no-one was awake in this chamber.

MR CORBELL: I withdraw it.

MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you.

MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (12.13): Certainly I commend Mr Smyth for his amendment, and I would like to briefly respond to some of the nonsense from those opposite. The point is that what we are not seeing—and I accept that—is a great agenda from the government in terms of the legislative program, and that could be debated.

Mr Corbell raises an issue of a piece of legislation that was responded to by one speaker on this side. But I would say that, in the course of events in this place, when there is legislation, there is one speaker from the government, that is, the minister, and there is one speaker from the opposition, that is, the shadow minister. That is the form of this place.

On occasion the government will have something which is of particular importance, perhaps, to them, and everybody wants to get on the record. That does not necessarily mean that the opposition will respond in kind and break with the conventions of this place where we have only a minister and a shadow minister speak. That is a nonsense. So let us make it clear that that is a nonsense.

I move then to the point that we have, as an opposition, not spoken at length. The functions of this place are manifold, but it is for the government to introduce and get on with its agenda. We have just talked about that. But it is also a very important mechanism or tool for the scrutiny of government.

We hear much from the Chief Minister about open and accountable government—and some of those mechanisms are questions without notice—and what we will see here, the difference between what is proposed by Mr Corbell and the amendment of Mr Smyth is a significant reduction in the number of questions without notice that will be asked. There will be significantly fewer MPIs and, importantly to the opposition, far less opportunity—and this should be an issue for the government backbenchers as well—for private members' business.


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