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MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General and Minister for the Environment, Land and Planning) (11.19): Mr Speaker, I have to say that this is one of the sillier motions that I have seen come before this Assembly. It is a silly motion because it is conducted in an absence of any concrete proposal before this Assembly which would give rise to the arguments that Mr Wood has put before us today.
Mr Connolly: It just says, “Do not do anything unless you come back here”.
MR HUMPHRIES: That is what the motion is saying: “Do not do anything. Do nothing. Preserve the status quo. Nothing changes. We do not know what is proposed to be changed, but we do not want the change anyway. Put up the barriers. No argument is going to be listened to. Plug up your ears”. It is a profoundly silly position for the Assembly to take. With respect, I think the content of the motion is typical of Labor's approach to public policy in this area. It represents a position that I think characterises Labor members in many respects as the true conservatives in this place. They think the system is perfect, and, rather than entertain debate about how the system might be improved or changed, they say, “We wish the Assembly to send a signal to the Government that change is not to be permitted in the future”. What exactly are the terms of the changes that have been proposed? I cannot even tell you that, and I am the Minister for the Environment, Land and Planning.
Mr Berry: That is not the first time that has happened.
MR HUMPHRIES: With respect, Mr Speaker, Mr Wood was heard in silence, and I would ask for the same courtesy. He was heard in complete silence. There was not one interjection during the course of his remarks.
MR SPEAKER: I uphold that request. I do not think it is an unreasonable request. Mr Wood was heard in silence.
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I think that members opposite have grossly exceeded their right as an opposition to place before this Assembly, in effect, a barrier against the government of the day considering and proposing in this place changes which might have the effect of changing the policy on the administration of commercial leases. I think that that approach, which says, “We should do nothing. We want nothing to change in this area.”, is typical of the wasted years of the previous Government. It was their approach that led to years of indecision, bickering and factional infighting - all the reasons, I might say, why this party, the Liberal Party, now finds itself on this side of the chamber. We did say that the system needed change, we did go to the people with a clear proposal for how a number of areas in this Territory should change from the previous Government's policy, and we won what I would describe as a reasonable mandate to make some of those changes. We put those views to the electorate, and we won considerably more support from the electorate than did the outgoing Government. That, I think, gives us the right to at least work up these proposals to the stage where they should be placed before the Assembly.