Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 1307 ..
MR MOORE (continuing):
Mr Speaker, I think this is quite a sensible motion that has been put up by Mr Berry. I do not think it in any way questions your decision. It says that what we are doing is going through a new process of trying to test just what is a landmark debate. I was not aware that this decision had been made by you. I must say that had I been aware I would have encouraged you very strongly to allow the media in here. In supporting the motion that has been put by Mr Berry, I think it is important that it be used simply by the Assembly to help you readjust your thinking - that is the way I would look at it - and say, "We are finding our way about what is a landmark debate and what is not".
The censure motion clearly had significant public interest and clearly had strong media interest. That in itself was an indicator, but only one of the indicators, as to what should have been. I believe personally that this ought to have been considered a landmark debate for the purposes of the Act. I also recognise that the decision you are making is very difficult. It was an on-balance decision. In supporting the motion, I am asking you to take the balance over a little further in the future. As I think Mr Berry stated, it is not about what has just happened. It is about what happens in the future, and I think we should go with it.
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (6.41): Mr Speaker, I do not think it is really worth wasting a great deal of time on this matter, given that we have already wasted a lot of time today, but I just indicate that as far as the Government is concerned, obviously excepting Mr Moore, we will not support this motion, simply because I think that there are better ways of expressing the view of the Assembly than in dissenting from a decision that the Speaker has made. We on this side of the chamber argue that motions of censure or dissent are fairly serious matters and reflect on the person in respect of whom they are moved. To move dissent from the decision of the Speaker does cast some doubt on his judgment. I would argue, Mr Speaker, that you have exercised a decision under the rules that the Assembly has provided for you to exercise.
I personally think the better way is to take it up in the Administration and Procedure Committee and indicate in that forum how in the future the Speaker is to make these decisions. I just do not feel that a motion dissenting from the Speaker's ruling, in the aftermath of a debate, or in the heat of a debate, is necessarily the right way of doing it. I accept Mr Moore's different view, Mr Berry. I think that there are better ways of doing it. I would say that we should do it in another forum, particularly in the Administration and Procedure Committee. I understand that you, Mr Speaker, have operated in a very consultative fashion in that forum and have fully consulted members of the Assembly represented on that committee about these sorts of decisions. I think it would be unfortunate for the Assembly to express its disagreement with the outcome of that process in this particular way. I think a better way is to indicate, for example, that the matter should be referred to the Administration and Procedure Committee for consideration of like cases in the future.