Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (6 December) . . Page.. 2715 ..
MR MOORE (12.34): Mr Speaker, a censure motion is indeed a serious matter. It is interesting how rarely censure motions have come before the Assembly, although we did have a couple last week. If we look back over the last six years, over the life of the Assembly, it is a fairly rare occurrence that this Assembly considers censure motions. I think part of the reason why it happens so rarely in this Assembly is that, with minority government, censure motions can be carried much more easily than in cases where there are majority governments, particularly when the censure motion is against the Government.
Mr Osborne has drawn attention to the original motion, and, I think, has given a fair account of what happened with that and what led him and me to support the original motion requiring 100 per cent bulk-billing by doctors. He made it very clear that his concern, like mine, was that people who could not afford to pay the difference between the cost of the bulk-billing and what private doctors charge ought not to be put in a situation where they have to find that sort of money. We believed that the best way to do that would be to deliver as best we could a system that would provide that sort of service. The motion Mr Osborne put at the time was to resolve that problem with 100 per cent bulk-billing. He has been through the procedure as to how we got there, and I would like to emphasise that.
The real issue here is how the Government responds to the legislature, how it responds to instruction. It seems to me that there are many ways of dealing with an instruction from this legislature. The first and most obvious, if the Government does not like something, is that they stand up and oppose it and say, "Tough; we are not doing it". We certainly have seen that technique used by Rosemary Follett when she was Chief Minister in terms of her budget, when she said she would refuse to do something. We have seen a similar effort by Mrs Carnell. Instead, you can oppose something by undermining it, and in some ways I find that a little more difficult to deal with.
There are two further methods that can be used to effectively oppose a motion of the Assembly. You can oppose something by actually doing nothing. You just let events roll on, and by doing nothing you effectively undermine the instruction that was given. There is one way that is a touch cleverer than that, I think, and that is opposing something by not doing quite enough. You wind up undermining something by not doing quite enough. You make sure that not enough is done, and in that way the result is still the same. The interesting thing is that, whichever method is chosen, the result often is the same. The instruction that has been given by the legislature actually does not eventuate. I think that is why Mr Osborne has raised this issue and said that it does not matter how you choose to go about it; if the effect is to undermine what the Assembly has instructed, you are not acting appropriately, and that is a matter for censure. When an instruction is given by the Assembly it has to be carried out.
One could argue that there is a more serious case than each one of those, but I do not think that necessarily is the case. If the outcome is still that something is not achieved when it ought to have been achieved, then we are talking about a very serious matter, and that is why this censure motion has been put. It is not a no-confidence motion, which would be used to deal with a more serious matter again. The censure motion makes it very clear that the Assembly is dissatisfied with the approach that has been taken.