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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (16 August) . . Page.. 2250..

MR SPEAKER: Order! Chief Minister, resume your seat for the moment. Mr Smyth has raised a point of order as to relevance. Mrs Dunne went to great lengths to explain why the standing orders needed to be suspended. She also went to great lengths to explain how the arrangements that seem to have gone awry somewhere were the reason why the opposition did not want to listen to Mr Gentleman. I think it is partly both. We cannot get away from it, regrettably.

MR STANHOPE: It is a fact that two members, Mrs Burke and Ms MacDonald, are in New Zealand representing this parliament on parliamentary business. The conference started effectively with a function on Sunday evening. Mrs Burke was in New Zealand on Sunday. Ms MacDonald was in New Zealand on Sunday. Ms MacDonald, because of a refusal of a pair, flew back to Australia on Sunday night and returned to New Zealand on Monday night. The exercise cost Ms MacDonald $1,000.

Dr Foskey talks about civility. I know of no other example in my time in this Assembly where members have quite deliberately taken an action that could have been avoided that cost another member, a colleague, $1,000. For a member of this place to look at a political opponent across the chamber and say, "You are my political opponent. I have the capacity"-

MR SPEAKER: The time for the debate has expired.

Question resolved in the negative, with the concurrence of an absolute majority.

Discussion of matter of public importance

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (3.40): Thank you Mr Speaker. As I was saying, I rise today to speak on a matter of public importance-

MR SPEAKER: Order, Mr Gentleman! I regret to inform you your time has expired. The clock runs while the debate about the suspension of standing orders continues. So your time has expired.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (3.40): Thank you, Mr Speaker. The Liberal opposition and the crossbench will be boycotting this matter of public importance so that we can get on with the business of the day.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo-Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for Planning) (3.40): It is extraordinary, Mr Speaker, that the opposition are not interested in investing in early childhood development because that is what this matter of public importance today is about. It only highlights the hypocrisy and the neglect that we see from those opposite. They are completely uninterested in discussing issues of importance to our community, such as early childhood development.

That is what this MPI is about today-early childhood development. It is one of the most important investments any community can make. In fact, there are many areas that this MPI should cover, and some of those include the investment that this government has undertaken in the development of child and family centres in Canberra. These centres have a vitally important role ensuring the health and wellbeing of Canberra's children

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