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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2399 ..

Mr Moore: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. We have the motion. I do not believe that Mr Berry has been called yet to speak to the motion. Are we going to do things the way we are supposed to do them?

MR SPEAKER: Just a moment. He moved a motion relating to a meal break. He is explaining the situation.

MR BERRY: The motion is that we suspend between the hours of 6.00 pm and 7.00 pm. I have moved that motion because there has been some discussion about how long we might be going today in relation to a certain function that was occurring tonight. I understand that that is now off. Staff in this place have wages and conditions arrangements which provide for a five-hour period between meal breaks. Somebody who was working at one o'clock ought to have a meal break at about 6.00 pm. I think it is fairly reasonable for us to break for an hour at that time and come back and get stuck into it again. I think the motion is fairly self-explanatory and I need go no further.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (5.44): Mr Speaker, I oppose the motion. It is obvious that there is a filibuster going on here in respect of the budget. The Government has ordered some refreshments and food and sandwiches for 6.30 pm. It is perfectly acceptable for members and support staff to go outside during the course of the period while we are sitting here debating the budget and get some food and refreshment. I think, Mr Speaker, with a long night ahead of us, it is not appropriate to have the whole Assembly shut down for an hour while certain members do other things. I would urge that we continue to sit and deal with the issues before us. I did indicate very clearly to members opposite and others on Friday at the Government business meeting that we would need to complete this budget today or tonight. I therefore ask that we not support this motion.

MR BERRY (5.45), in reply: I will be closing the debate, Mr Speaker, unless somebody else wants to have a go. Mr Speaker, the Government this morning did not seem concerned about the time that they used in introducing Bills into this place. A well-developed custom has taken place in the past. We have been very economical about the time for the introduction of Bills. That did not take place this morning. This Government opposite were the ones who voted out evening sittings, and I think members deserve a meal break. If they think they are going to bludgeon us into accepting their budget by working us to death, they have another think coming. The point that I would expect the Liberals opposite to miss is the obligation that we have to observe reasonable industrial conditions for staff around this place.

Mr Humphries: We still can.

MR BERRY: Of course, here we go; flexibility. Staff are entitled to have a meal break, not wander all over the place having a quick sandwich. They are entitled to move out of this place, to leave the place and have a break. You have to accept that reasonable industrial conditions should be observed for staff in this place. It is not only the staff of members, who are a hardy lot indeed; there are other staff who work around this place, and Assembly staff as well.

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