Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 1464 ..
MR SPEAKER: Order! I am referring to House of Representatives Practice, which, as you know, we tend to refer to from time to time if our own standing orders are inadequate. It states:
References to debates and committee proceedings
References in questions to debates in the current session, concluded or adjourned, are out of order. The Chair has interpreted this rule as applying equally to debates in the Senate. The rule does not preclude questions on the subject matter of such debates, which may be so broad as to cover, for example, the country's whole foreign policy, but rather precludes reference to the debate itself and to specific statements made in it.
I am in no position to judge whether specific statements have been made in it or not. The Minister has offered to take the question on notice. I simply suggest to him that he answer what he can of the question in conformity with House of Representatives Practice.
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I am not quite clear where that leaves me.
MR SPEAKER: I am not sure where it does either, Mr Humphries.
MR HUMPHRIES: I will take on notice any part of this question that I cannot answer now, but let me say first of all that, in writing to the person to whom Mr Corbell has referred, I referred in my letter to the fact that further consideration was being given to rural residential development in the ACT. I do not believe I heard anything that Mr Corbell read out which was inconsistent with the decision the Government had made on 22 December concerning rural residential development. It was also very obvious from the public debate about this matter that there had been an approach to the Government by Mr Whitcombe and that the outcome of that was very much on the public record as well. It had been very much ventilated. There have been public meetings about it. The Government's position had been very clearly stated. I do not believe that the person to whom I wrote could have been under any illusion at all about what the process was or that there was at that stage already a preliminary process under way to deal with Mr Whitcombe on that particular proposal around Hall.
MR BERRY: Mr Speaker, I would like the Minister for Justice and Community Safety to be very careful when he answers this question. When did the Minister obtain a copy of the Ayers report and when did he read it?
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I obtained the report some time after the meeting of the Estimates Committee. It is a pity, Mr Berry, that you had not asked that question before you put out a press release implying that I had it before the Estimates Committee had met. Why do you want an answer to this question? You have already made