Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (26 May) . . Page.. 597 ..
MR KAINE (4.56): Mr Speaker, this is an interesting report. This is the first time in my recollection that a committee has come back with a report that puts the Government in a bind. What the Government has is one member of a committee that recommends a course of action and another member of the committee that recommends against it. Members of this place are well aware, of course, that the Government can do nothing with this land variation proposal until it is endorsed by the appropriate committee of this Assembly. The committee has not endorsed it.
That raises an interesting constitutional question as to what the Government now does. It has negotiated an agreement with the parties to a lease which, on the basis of this report, it cannot put into place. Instead of Mr Hird referring to other members as Chuckling Charlie or something, he might take this report very seriously because it raises a very important question that the Government has to address, and that is: How do the Assembly and the Government proceed on this issue now?
The law of this Territory obliges the Assembly to refer this matter to the appropriate committee and, as I understand it, it cannot proceed unless it has the endorsement of the committee to either adopt or reject the proposal. It has neither. Perhaps we could hear from one of the learned members of the Government as to what they now intend to do, not only with this report but with the lease purpose under the Territory Plan which is required to be changed before the negotiated agreement can be put into place. I will be most interested to hear what the Government has to say on the matter.
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (4.58): Mr Speaker, I am very pleased to rise and respond to a couple of issues in this debate. First of all, I will take the question that Mr Kaine has raised. I am checking the legislation, but I do not think, with respect, that the situation is as Mr Kaine has described it. My understanding is that the Government is compelled to have regard to reports of the relevant committee of the Assembly which considers draft variations to the Territory Plan. My understanding of that is that it is not compelled to reject a recommendation of the committee or to make - - -
Mr Kaine: There is no recommendation.
MR HUMPHRIES: Indeed. It is not in the position of being obliged to conform with the recommendation of an Assembly committee. If the committee recommended, for example, against this variation, the Government is still perfectly entitled to table the variation and the decision is made on the floor of the Assembly, not on the floor of the committee. That is always the case with every committee's work because a committee may recommend to the Assembly something which, on the whole, the Assembly might reject.
Mr Speaker, it seems to me that there is no other course of action open to the Government in these circumstances, where there is a tied vote on the floor of this particular committee, than for the variation to be tabled in this place and for Mr Berry to move his motion of disallowance, as is his entitlement.