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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 18 March 2010) . . Page.. 1109 ..


expected it to be particularly remarkable or controversial that the government would seek to ensure, or to reflect with some clarity and some certainty, the position which we always understood to be the position—and a position which reflected a previous statutory arrangement. We would not have thought that that was particularly controversial and I have to say that at one level it is not even a particularly substantive matter.

But these are matters for judgement and that is always the case. In saying that, I think it is a fairly rough judgement when the government in relation to that particular amendment brought a particular mindset to its inclusion in the JACS bill. The mindset was that this is not particularly controversial; to us it was not. And, to be honest, we did not think it would be to other members of the Assembly. Nor did we think it was particularly substantive.

So, in response to the motion, we acknowledge the generally accepted practice. It is a practice, of course, that is generally accepted and it is a practice which I believe, in the main, all governments have sought to honour and uphold, certainly in my time in this place. I am sure I could point to JACS bills or bills of this particular nature in the time that we were in opposition that would, in appearance and content, be virtually indistinguishable from the bill we have debated today. But these are matters of judgement and perspective at one level—judgements that are determined depending on which bench you are sitting on.

But I believe, as Mrs Dunne has described it, the generally accepted practice has been essentially honoured, I would have thought reasonably faithfully, by any party that has formed government in this place. I have to say that that would have been my experience in opposition and I would maintain it is my experience in government—that this government has no desire not to accept or honour that practice. I do note and I accept that Mrs Dunne in her motion is benignly calling on the government to honour that generally accepted practice. But I guess in honouring that generally accepted practice it is reasonable we have this conversation about what each of the parties in the place understands the generally accepted practice to be. I am saying, in defence of the government, that I do not believe that we have betrayed that generally accepted practice. But we would certainly want to see that it is honoured.

I do not disagree for one minute that it is important that we understand the parameters or the boundaries that are very much part of the accepted notion of omnibus bills. Having said that, I do not disagree with the essential thrust, feeling, desire to ensure that we all understand the way in which these bills will be produced and proceeded with. All I am saying is that I do not believe the government has transgressed, and in that sense the government cannot agree with paragraph 1(b) because we simply do not accept that it represents the way in which we have proceeded with these. So the government, whilst accepting in good will what it is that Mrs Dunne is seeking to highlight, do not accept that we have not, or have ever not, sought to act within the constraints of that practice. So we are happy to support the motion except for paragraph (b).

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (12.14): To close, I thank members for their comments and I thank Mr Rattenbury and the Greens in particular for their full support for this


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