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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 1 Hansard (29 April) . . Page.. 189 ..

Mr Humphries: Mr Speaker, I have to press the point that the ruling Mr Corbell has dissented from is your interpretation of this particular standing order on relevance. Mr Corbell, in moving this motion, did not allege that you were partial to a particular side of the chamber. Mr Berry has introduced this argument in the course of his remarks. In any case, it is out of order. It is contrary to standing orders and should be withdrawn.

MR SPEAKER: That is true, Mr Berry.

MR BERRY: I will withdraw it rather than pursue the issue, but the fact of the matter is that this is a trendsetting debate for each and every debate which occurs in this place. If, Mr Humphries, you ever rise again when there is an irrelevance being introduced into a debate in this place by a member, it will be a clear sign of hypocrisy. You cannot do it. What you have attempted to do is to undermine the standing orders as they exist. The standing orders are not chiselled in stone. They can be changed at any time. They are going to stand in their current form if this dissent motion is successful or they are going to change if it is not, because if this dissent motion fails the ruling for the future is that members can digress from the subject matter of any question under discussion. That is the position.

So members have to decide whether they wish to ditch that standing order. I am ambivalent about it. One takes these standing orders as they are written. It seems to be fairly straightforward and to the point; but, if this dissent motion goes down, that standing order is finished and each time Mr Humphries rises in future and croaks about relevance every member of this place will be able to rise and mention this debate, because this debate is about determining what the standing orders mean.

Mr Smyth: And you have never strayed from the point.

MR BERRY: Brendan, your name is not dry in the book yet. Just wait awhile. The fact of the matter is that this is an important issue about the relevance of standing orders and their standing. Either you support the standing orders or you do not. If you change them, fair enough; we will all play by the same rules.

MS TUCKER (5.25): I support the concerns raised by the Labor Party here. I can see that there is an argument for the other side as well, but the point of this motion was not whether we should privatise ACTEW and what sorts of criteria the Labor Party has for making that decision. The motion, as I understood it, was about the Liberal Party forcing Labor to table a document - a motion which was then amended by Mr Berry to force other people to table documents. I understood it to be a motion about tabling documents, not about actually analysing the nature of any document that was tabled. The lesson from this if this happens again would be that no-one would table anything until close of business in this place. What does "close of business" mean - a sitting? If so, the lesson would be that you would make sure that you actually tabled the document just before the last debate and, hopefully, after the debate dealing with the issue if you were not ready for it. Everyone else is, possibly, going to have to table their positions, too.

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