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Suspension of Standing Orders

MR BERRY (11.00): I move:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent Mr Connolly from moving a motion concerning the Jindalee Nursing Home and salaried general practitioner services.

Mr Speaker, passage of this motion would allow Mr Connolly to put forward a motion about a very serious matter of public importance, as indicated by the number of people who are attending this Assembly this morning and who, I am sure, would like to hear the debate. I have indicated to the Government that, if this debate proceeds this morning, Labor will not be proceeding with its MPI this afternoon and therefore their program should not be altered. This matter was brought on at fairly late notice. I know that Mr Humphries will complain that he was not consulted; but I wish the Government would have thought about that in relation to the employees at Jindalee, and I wish they had thought about it in relation to the patients and the doctors. I wish they had thought about it in the context of the promise that they made to the people of Canberra about consultation.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (11.01): Mr Speaker, I think Mr Connolly and Mr Berry are quite entitled to debate this issue. It is a matter of importance to the public and I would have expected, therefore, that it would have been debated this afternoon in the context of a matter of public importance. I do think it is a little bit unfortunate to spring this issue on the Government in this way. Ms Follett, across the way, smiles. She knows that other members of the chamber were told an hour before we sat that this was going to happen. The Government was told as the bells were ringing that there was going to be a debate on this subject. If we want a real debate about these issues, people are entitled to put both sides. To have only a few minutes’ notice to do so is most unfortunate.

Mr Speaker, if members wish to rearrange the agenda of the Assembly to suit the fact that there is a particular audience interested in a debate, that is fine. It is a very unfortunate precedent to set. If members want to start that, they are perfectly entitled to do so; but I would warn members that that is not a very appropriate way of handling things. I would have been very happy to have set this debate had there been a request for it some time ago. I would have been happy to have accommodated that. Mr Speaker, those opposite know that this is a very unfortunate precedent to set. If they wish to set it, they will have to live with the consequences.

Question resolved in the affirmative, with the concurrence of an absolute majority.

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