Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 1 Hansard (29 April) . . Page.. 186 ..
MR CORBELL: It is in no way relevant to Mr Humphries's motion. Mr Humphries's motion requires me to table by the close of business today the criteria of the ACT branch of the Labor Party for privatisation of public assets. Mr Speaker, the amendment moved by Mr Berry, which is acceptable to Mr Humphries, broadens the motion so that it requires all other members and parties to adhere in the way that Mr Humphries was requiring of me. The substantive issue, Mr Speaker, is that I table the document and subsequently, following the amendment, that all other members and parties in this place table documents. The issue is not what the document that I have tabled says. That is not the issue in the motion. In fact, it does not even talk about the criteria in the document I tabled. The motion in no way mentions the criteria in the document that I tabled.
Mr Speaker, you were wrong, with all due respect, to rule the way you did, because if you were to rule that way consistently, which as a Speaker you should, it would mean that members of this place would be able to introduce into debate a whole range of issues which have absolutely nothing to do with the question before the Chair. Mr Humphries has been speaking on an issue which is not relevant; in fact, it is not even mentioned in the question before the Chair. For that reason, and that reason alone, it is inappropriate for you to rule in that way. Mr Humphries is probably going to jump up and say, "I am talking about the criteria in the document and the document is mentioned in the motion". But, Mr Speaker, that is not the point of the motion. The motion is here not to debate the criteria; the motion is here to require me to table the criteria. There is a significant difference. I would hope, Mr Speaker, that on reflection you will change your ruling and require Mr Humphries to speak to the motion, and not to introduce into the debate other matter which is not relevant and not central to the motion that he has circulated.
The Labor Party, for the whole life of this Assembly, will be acting in a far more proactive manner, to ensure that the standing orders of this place are upheld in the way which we believe is the fair and impartial way to do so. Mr Speaker, on this occasion, we believe that you have erred in your judgment and we invite you to reconsider the issue; but we will be, as a matter of practice, holding you accountable, as any other member of this place can be held accountable, in relation to the standing orders of this place. Mr Speaker, we dissent from your ruling, with all due respect. We believe that it is wrong. Mr Humphries is not entitled to introduce all this other matter into the debate. The issue before the Chair is the question of whether a document should be tabled, not what is in it.
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (5.16): Mr Speaker, I submit that the house ought to uphold the ruling that you have made in respect of this matter. Mr Corbell says that the criteria for privatisation of public assets are not even mentioned in the motion. If Mr Corbell reads the motion, he will see very clearly that they are mentioned in the motion. Indeed, that is what the motion is all about. If you were to give this motion, or even the amendment to the motion, to one of the schoolchildren who sat in the gallery earlier today and you said to them, "What is this motion about?", they would say, "It is about the criteria of the ACT branch of the Labor Party for privatisation of public assets". If the motion were to be amended, they would say, "It is about the criteria of Mr Corbell and all other members and parties for privatisation of public assets". Either way - - -