Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 963 ..
MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (9.53): Mr Speaker, I speak in general terms, I suppose; but the thing that I find most difficulty with in this legislation is the notion of a special majority. It seems to me, when you use the word "majority", we cannot be below nine; and, when you are talking about a special majority, you must, therefore, be talking about at least 10, because a simple majority is nine members of this Assembly. So, it would seem to me that the issue would be clarified if proposed subsection (3B) in clause 4 and proposed subsection (5) in clause 5 were omitted.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Moore, the Clerk advises that we should be addressing clause 5, which is the point I think you wish to discuss.
MR MOORE: Except that the reason why I am talking about it in general terms at the moment, Mr Speaker, is that it applies to both clause 4 and clause 5. But I would be happy to take clauses 4 and 5 together and speak to them together, if that would be the wish of the Assembly.
MR SPEAKER: You were hoping for a cognate debate on clauses 4 and 5?
MR MOORE: Yes, Mr Speaker. I will continue what I was saying. This would apply to both clauses 4 and 5, but I will speak to just the first one at this time. If members are concerned that the issue of Territory-owned corporations coming before the Assembly is what we are really interested in - and Mr Corbell, in his speech, certainly said that at this stage he is not really interested in whether or not there is a special majority; the real issue is to ensure that the matter comes before the Assembly - then it would seem to me to be logical to remove those subsections. There is no doubt that both subsections do say, "If the standing rules and orders of the Legislative Assembly require a special majority ..." and therefore imply that, if the standing orders do not say it, then this approach is not necessary. But it seems to me that the deletion of these subsections is a more sensible approach.
In this case, if it is the wish of members to ensure that any such move comes before the Assembly, then they should have the chance to deal with it. But to have this silly piece of technique built into legislation is pointless, because, even if it is in the standing orders, the first thing that will happen is that somebody will say, "I move that so much of the standing orders be suspended ...". It requires a simple majority to get that through. So, what we will have instead is a very poor piece of legislation that will be built into the statute books of the Assembly. It seems to me to be absolutely pointless.
It seems to me that there could be a very simple amendment. In fact, we do not even need an amendment; we could just ask the Speaker to divide the clause into two parts. I think that would be a reasonable way to do it. We could vote against subsection (3B) and we could vote against subsection (5) in clause 5 when the time came. It would seem to me that we would then at least have on our statute books a reasonably sensible piece of legislation, instead of having a piece of legislation that was, by its very nature, silly.