Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 965 ..
MR MOORE (continuing):
Members who were in the First Assembly - and I am sure Mr Berry will remember it - will remember that Ministers were the only members who could move for the suspension of standing orders under our first set of standing orders. That was the position until about, I think, three or four months into the First Assembly, when there was a motion to change that standing order. I know that members like Mr Berry, Mr Wood, Mr Kaine, Mr Humphries and I will remember this. It was a quite vigorous debate as to whether or not this was an appropriate transfer of power. It was, I think, our first debate on the issue of the power of the Assembly compared to the power of the Executive, and what was the appropriate relationship between the Executive and the Assembly. Of course, the idea of Ministers moving for the suspension of standing orders was one that came from a house that was controlled by majority governments. I think Mr Berry was in government when this matter was raised. Although the Government at the time did not resist the issue - my recollection is that it did not - it was a matter that was debated in detail.
It seems to me that, having this sort of enabling mechanism - and I think it was accurately described by Mr Corbell as an enabling mechanism - in the legislation has about it an implication, and it is only an implication, that it will be in the standing orders. That is setting a path that really ought to be resisted. I think we ought to resist the notion that standing orders can ever set up a special majority as part of our standing orders; and that is why it is, Mr Speaker, that I am keen to see this matter resolved. Subsection (3B) is very similar to subsection (5). They raise for us a whole series of matters in terms of standing orders.
I have to say that there is a fundamental issue that we need to consider as well, and that is the way we use the issue of two-thirds majorities anyway. The two-thirds majority or special majority is really a matter for referendums. It is not a matter that should be taken lightly. It has only ever been used in this Assembly as a matter of how we deal with referendum results. Under our legislation, the only way that a referendum result can be overturned by the Assembly is when the matter has been passed by the Assembly with a special majority. It seems to me that what we should do is allow Mr Corbell's legislation to pass. The real intention of the legislation is to make sure that matters come before the Assembly. Although I voted against it, it is clearly the will of the Assembly. It will at least resolve these issues. I see that Mr Osborne is ready to move his amendment.
MR OSBORNE (10.05): I move:
Page 2, lines 6 to 10, proposed subsection 13(3B), omit the proposed subsection.
I might just sit down, as Michael has explained what I am doing. Mr Speaker, I supported Mr Corbell when he came to me on this issue. I think it is very important. Quite clearly, the sale of Territory-owned assets is quite topical at the moment. I must admit, though, it was very tempting not to support this Bill and to be able just to blame the Government. That course was offered to me, I must admit; but I just think that something of this importance requires all members to put their hands up and not be afraid to face the issues, because quite clearly there are issues. When I did speak to Mr Corbell I indicated that I was quite happy to support this but not the issue of the special majority.