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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 1740 ..

MR STANHOPE: The motion simply encapsulates the view of the six members of the Labor team, each of whom has a different perspective on this issue, that there is nothing to be gained in continuing to divide the Canberra community on this issue. There is nothing whatsoever to be gained by creating the division that this Bill has created.

We think the message from the community is clear. We think the community has responded over the last week. We think they have responded overwhelmingly. We believe, on those measures available to us - letters to the editor, the rally held yesterday, and the polling conducted by the Canberra Times, by commercial television stations and radio stations throughout Canberra - that the message is clear and overwhelming. The people of Canberra do not want this legislation, and I do not think the people of Canberra wanted this debate. They think the time has moved on.

We are not suggesting that we inhibit debate, and we are not seeking to inhibit debate. We will welcome the debate if it has to come. We simply do not think it needs to come. We think it is in Mr Osborne's hands to end this matter now. We think it is in Mr Osborne's hands to end the division that he has created within the community. We do not think there is any need to drag it out or stretch it out.

It is suggested that we are trying to inhibit debate; that in some way, through this motion, we are acting against the interests of democracy or acting against Mr Osborne's right to bring whatever he wishes before this house. We will defend to the utmost, to the end, to the death, the right of any member to bring any matter they wish before this place. We defend that right absolutely. To suggest that we are in any way seeking to curtail that right is just outrageous politicking and grandstanding. It misses the entire point. It is just outrageous politicking. That is not what the motion says. That is not what it intends, and that is not what it achieves. It is just simple grandstanding nonsense.

The motion is quite sensible. The motion has the support, I think, of almost everybody in Canberra. The motion has the support, I think, of that overwhelming majority of people who do not want this Bill and who do not want this community divided. I think Mr Osborne knows that in his heart. I think Mr Osborne can ease the pain that he is suffering simply by gracefully withdrawing and admitting that he has made a mistake.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education) (11.11): Mr Speaker, I asked my colleague Mr Humphries, who has been here a couple of years longer than I have, if he could recall a situation where we had a motion like this. He could not. I certainly cannot in all the years I have been in this place. I can recall one instance when we had a very similar situation to what is occurring now. A crowd of people who were demonstrating against a particular Bill that had been introduced to the Assembly had called on the mover - in that case it was me - to withdraw it. The Labor colleagues opposite did not resort to a motion such as this. That Bill was the move-on powers Bill back in 1989, Mr Speaker, and there was a very large rally outside the old Assembly at the ACTAC building. There was a big crowd too, probably very similar to the crowd out here - a crowd of trade unionists. I recall addressing that rally and indicating to them, like Mr Osborne did today in this house, that I would not withdraw that Bill. That Bill was contentious.

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