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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 March 2010) . . Page.. 1250 ..

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (2.27): Moving dissent from a Speaker’s ruling is not something that is done lightly. In the nine or so years that I have been in this place, I do not recall it happening. So it is not something that Mr Smyth has done lightly. But I am pleased to support his motion because of the very important principle that is at stake here, the very important principle that you have contradicted in making this ruling and the important principle that you contradicted last week when you made your original ruling. It does call into question the extent to which this Assembly will operate in an apolitical fashion and how you will operate in an apolitical fashion.

Mr Smyth rightly points to the fact that last year it was all right to ask questions about the Labor-Greens agreement. I have a distinct recollection of asking a question that was couched in terms of the Labor-Greens agreement. Mr Corbell and Ms Bresnan spent a lot of time saying, “Well, you got the answer to your question anyhow.” Yes, we did get the answer to our question anyhow, but the mere fact that you ruled in such a way sends a clear message that the Labor-Greens agreement is a subject which is out of bounds. And we have to look at the Labor-Greens agreement. The Labor-Greens agreement was signed and brought into this place as a testament to the relationship between the two parties. There are communiques that come out regularly. They are not communiques between the ALP and the ACT Greens; they are communiques between the Stanhope government and the Greens. So the ACT Labor Party has raised the stakes here and said, “This is a relationship between the government”—not the rank and file or anything like that; not the party organisation but “between the government”.

We all know, Mr Speaker, that this agreement is the thing that makes the Stanhope government. If it were not for this agreement, there would be no Stanhope government. Mr Coe on occasions has discussed matters in here in relation to the housing elements of the Labor-Greens agreement. Every time it is discussed, Ms Bresnan has a little hissy fit and has words to say about how unfair that is. Mr Coe actually arrived at a position about that in response to answers to questions on notice. There have been questions in the past that relate directly to the Labor-Greens agreement.

I go back to the initial point made by Mr Smyth: what has changed? What is different? Why has there been a rethinking? You refer us, Mr Speaker, to House of Representatives Practice because you say that, when in doubt, we should go to House of Representatives Practice. First of all, I contend that there is no doubt, because standing order 114 clearly says:

Questions may be put to a Minister relating to public affairs with which that Minister is officially connected …

She is officially connected; she is the signatory. And she is the person who issues the communiques on a regular basis. On top of that, the Deputy Chief Minister is also the Treasurer and is responsible for the substantial funding of matters in the Labor-Greens agreement. The Deputy Chief Minister, as Treasurer, in the last two weeks or thereabouts, has said that some of the elements of the Labor-Greens agreement will have to possibly be put aside because of the state of the ACT budget.

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