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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 17 February 2011) . . Page.. 337 ..

If this is a deliberate tactic of the government then it will not work. And if it takes a motion of the Assembly to ensure that, when a document is tabled by a minister after question time, 30 copies need to be deposited with the tabling office, as has been the practice in this place since the start, then I will personally move the motion on the next day of sitting of the Assembly.

If we go back to House of Representatives Practice, the practice is quite clear. It says:

Documents presented at the time provided in the order of business are generally presented together according to a previously circulated list.

The list is in place so that members know what is coming. House of Representatives Practice goes on to say:

A schedule of documents to be presented is made available to the Manager of Opposition Business by 12 noon on the day of presentation, and circulated to Members in the Chamber at the first opportunity. Following Question Time a Minister presents the documents as listed, and the documents so listed are recorded in the Votes and Proceedings and Hansard.

Our practice, for as long as I can remember, has been that post cabinet a document goes around telling everybody what is coming, including the bills and the papers for the rest of the week, so that people can get organised and so that we do not have to go through the shenanigans that we are going through this week.

We have a responsibility, as members, to be able to respond. We have established practices to ensure that that happens. What we see now is, three times in a week, the very first sitting week of the year, something that, just looking at it, is petty. And it is pathetic for a chief minister to act in this way and to allow his government to act in this way.

I cannot recall a single instance of this sort of behaviour in the 15-odd years that I have been here. I am sure, Mr Hargreaves, you cannot. If someone wants to correct me and say that I am wrong, I am quite happy to be proven wrong. But this is not the way that it is done. What it does is it stops scrutiny. It stops the opportunity for people to respond. It actually stops us asking the minister that the report be noted so that we can have a debate.

From the man who stands up for human rights, everybody on the crossbench and in the opposition has been denied the right, three times now this week, to respond adequately to a government document. He is becoming the human rights tyrant; it is a human right for him but for no-one else. And once you start denying access to knowledge, you start denying people their basic right: the right to have an opinion and the right to respond. We have been elected by the people of our electorates to have opinions, to have an opportunity to respond on their behalf on these matters. This week’s practice needs to change. (Time expired.)

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