Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (26 May) . . Page.. 599 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
Before exercising its powers under paragraph (1)(a) the Executive shall have regard to any recommendations of a committee of the Legislative Assembly in relation to the draft Plan variation, background papers and reports submitted to the Executive and the committee under sections 24 and 25.
The Act does not say that the Assembly may not act unless there is a recommendation one way or the other. In this case there are no recommendations, Mr Speaker.
Mr Kaine: That is a curious interpretation of the law. You have no recommendations, so you ignore it altogether.
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, with great respect, I do not know what other course of action is available. Is the Government paralysed from making a decision because there is no recommendation?
Mr Kaine: You might refer it to a more appropriate committee to get a decision.
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, if Mr Kaine is still concerned, I am very happy to get advice on that subject. My view, as Attorney-General, is that that is quite clear: We are to have regard to any recommendations if they are made; but, if they are not, there is no obstacle to proceeding to put a variation on the table. If Mr Kaine is concerned, I would be very happy to obtain better advice on that subject and take that course of action.
I want to come back to Mr Berry's position. Mr Berry, with great respect, is obfuscating on this question. Mr Berry opposes the variation. Mr Berry, in fact, in the report which is presented declines to endorse the recommendation - - -
Mr Berry: There is no recommendation.
MR HUMPHRIES: Well, to endorse the variation then. Paragraph 12 of the committee's report says:
The second member of the committee (Mr Berry MLA) considers that the draft Variation should not be endorsed until the public is given further opportunity to comment on the proposal ...
If that is furnished, then, presumably, there will be a chance for Mr Berry to reconsider his position. I have to say - I think I speak on behalf of the Minister for Urban Services in this respect - that we do not propose that there be any further opportunity for public consultation. We have had six months of public consultation on this proposal. That six months of consultation has been quite comprehensive, and we see no reason to return to the subject.
We note Mr Berry's argument that there need to be two rounds of public consultation on such matters. I would argue that that is wasteful and unnecessary. I would argue that we ought to proceed, and I understand that the Minister proposes to table a variation very shortly. If Mr Berry believes, as he said in this report, that the variation should not be