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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 June 1995) . . Page.. 879 ..


MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (5.44): Mr Speaker, the reason why I believe that the Assembly needs to sit on this evening to complete the business before it is that the business foreshadowed in Executive business - not in private members business or Assembly business - and set down for today's sitting of the Assembly has been superseded by a series of private members matters, essentially, brought before this Assembly. Today we arrived at 10.30 am and saw, for the first time when we sat down at our places, the text of a motion dealing with the Versailles-Canberra twin city relationship. I had been led to believe at one stage that there was going to be a motion about that in private members business on Wednesday morning. That plan apparently changed, and we saw in the media this morning that we were going to have the motion today. That is fine; but we did indicate last Friday, at the Government business meeting, that the Government did want to have this package of Bills - the ACTEW corporatisation Bills - debated today. That was the indication we gave very clearly. All morning - in fact, 2½ hours of this morning - was taken up with debate on the Versailles-Canberra relationship.

Ms McRae: Who spoke on it? How many of you?

MR HUMPHRIES: Indeed, it was an important issue. It deserved to be spoken about. But we were not told in advance that this was going to happen today. As a result, our program had to slip. Fine; we let the Opposition and crossbenchers put that onto the agenda; we sat patiently through it; we contributed to the debate, as we were entitled to; and we had the matter dealt with. This afternoon, a further matter was brought before the Assembly, taking about an hour's debate, as I recall; not scheduled; with respect, pre-empting debate later on in the afternoon or this evening. Again, that happened over the Government's objections; fine. With respect, you have already wasted much of today on these issues. We now want to do some Executive business this evening, and I think we are entitled to do that. Other members have made some arrangements. I am proposing that we not sit through dinnertime. I am suggesting that we suspend the sitting from approximately now until 7.30 this evening. That is not unreasonable, in my view.

MS McRAE (5.46): I would like to rise in support of the motion because I find this quite an affront. First of all, the business of the afternoon was entirely appropriate. It is entirely in order for a private member to move a motion. If we had not had the motion, we could just as well have had an MPI. It was entirely appropriate that the time was spent in the way it was this afternoon. It is entirely appropriate that the Government's business be proceeded with at a time of the Government's choosing; but it is not appropriate that we are given no notice and no guidance, and that we are not told that this will need to be done at this time. We all have other commitments. We all accept invitations and order our lives on a basic expectation of what our working day will be. The Tuesday night sitting used to be scheduled at 8 o'clock so that the break was there and people could get on with their lives.

If the Government wants to schedule a night sitting, that is fine. We have all day Wednesday and all day Thursday. As I recall, last year we were recalled for a full day of sitting on the electoral Bill, when something of importance had to be done, and people were given fair warning. It is entirely out of order to be told, three-quarters of an hour


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