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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 1 Hansard (28 April) . . Page.. 50 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

with these issues properly and independently assess the impact of such proposed legislation on the civil liberties of all Canberrans? I say to you that it could not look at that legislation independently. Mr Osborne laughs because he thinks the infringement of civil liberties is a laughing matter. This committee could not actively and independently scrutinise those activities if it were joined with the policy committee.

Labor has also proposed the addition of a Planning Committee. As somebody with some experience on the Planning Committee over the years, I can say that it has clearly been the busiest committee in the Assembly. I do not think there is any doubt or any contest about that. In the last Assembly environment issues were attached to the committee. In my view, that detracted from the activities of the committee and from the activities that might have been pursued on environment issues.

There are people who would disagree. They are attached to the coalition; I am not. Planning is an important issue in the hearts and minds of many people in the Territory, particularly in the electorate of Molonglo. It is an extremely important issue in the Territory which deserves separate attention. Too many times we hear members in the community rightly complaining that their concerns are not being properly considered. If the planning issues are dealt with in the Urban Services Committee, what will suffer? I suggest that consideration of both planning matters and environmental matters will suffer because of the raft of urban services issues that the committee will have to consider. If you allow the Urban Services Committee to be watered down by the activities of a Planning Committee, then you are interfering with that committee's role. On the other hand, the urban services issues which might impact on the committee's workload will also water down consideration of planning issues which a Planning Committee might pursue.

The same applies to the environment. For a long time this Assembly has had a separate committee for the environment. It is an important issue for all Canberrans, young and old. A separate committee would show that this Assembly has an interest in dealing with the issue as a specific matter. I can understand why the Liberals are not particularly attached to that idea. Mr Moore would not accept that the committee he chaired did anything wrong. Nobody is suggesting that. I am suggesting that we would be better served by separate committees as proposed in the amendments, and I urge members to support the amendments.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (12.08): Let me respond to the last comment by Mr Berry. I am not so concerned about whether the committee I chaired ever did anything wrong. It is how much it set out to achieve and what it did achieve in both planning and the environment that I am proud of. It must be particularly embarrassing for Mr Stanhope and Mr Quinlan, having said to this Assembly only a short while ago - less than a couple of hours ago - that they are not going to oppose for opposition's sake, to hear from one of their members, Mr Berry, that he is amending the motions about the committee system.

The whole basis of Mr Berry's argument, except for the last little bit about a Planning Committee and an Environment Committee, is that under Mr Osborne's motions we will not have a Standing Committee on Public Accounts or a traditional Scrutiny of Bills Committee. No, we will not, Mr Berry. In fact, we will have an improved system.

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