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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 25 March 2010) . . Page.. 1499 ..

We really need to look at the standing order. We need to see how far it does apply. It is a difficult and complicated issue. I agree with that. I understand that it has come up in the Assembly on a number of other occasions and it has not, obviously, been fully resolved exactly how this should be applied. Therefore we, as I said, are saying that we do not find in this case that it should mean the exclusion of certain members from the government bench. We do not believe that is how the application should be made.

But what I would do would be to put out the offer that, if the Liberal Party would like to put forward a motion to adjourn this debate at this point, I think it would be quite timely for the Speaker to go off and do some more background research on this matter, seek the advice of the Assembly’s ethics and integrity adviser as to whether there is a conflict of interest and to lay this standing order to rest a little by getting some solid information and some research around this. I will put it out there that we would support a motion from the Liberal Party to adjourn the debate at this time to go off and seek this.

I think it is a practical matter about how long it does take to get that advice from our ethics and integrity adviser. I think I would need to be seeking advice as to the logistics of being able to—

Mr Smyth: I am happy not to move a motion as long as it is dealt with at a later hour today.

MS HUNTER: I think the problem there is, and my understanding is, that it takes a little longer to get this sort of information and to get on to our ethics and integrity adviser for it to come back at a later hour today. So I think we would be adjourning not to a later hour today but in a timely manner. If we are going to do this, let us do it properly. Let us not just tick a box because I am not into a tick-a-box exercise. I am into a proper exercise to actually do the research, get a bit more understanding of how this could be applied, whether it applies in this case. But if it does go to a vote today, we will not be supporting Mrs Dunne’s motion.

MR HARGREAVES (Brindabella) (11.08): I was not going to speak in the debate but in this particular instance I think it needs to be said that, whilst I applaud Ms Hunter’s suggestion that we put the matter to the ethics commissioner, it is my understanding that that is not possible. I understand the role of the ethics commissioner is to speak member to commissioner only and not to have a question put to the commissioner about the behaviours, ethics and everything else of another member. That was what we actually decided in this place with regard to the authorities and responsibilities of the ethics commissioner. Whilst I think it would be an ideal thing to do, if we are precluded from doing that by the commissioner’s terms of reference—

Mrs Dunne: It is adviser.

MR HARGREAVES: Yes, it is adviser. But even so, whilst I applaud the idea of asking for an expert third party’s advice on this, I think the point that Ms Hunter is making is absolutely valid. There are members of the Liberal Party who may have

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