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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 1741 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

The numbers in the Assembly caused it to be referred to a committee. No-one in the Assembly brought forward a motion such as this calling on a member to remove the Bill. The committee in that case duly came up with a different Bill which was subsequently passed. It became law for some four years. It was reintroduced by Mr Osborne not that many months ago and was passed again into law. That was a contentious issue. People felt very strongly one way or the other about it.

We are not going to escape the fact that in this place there will be contentious issues debated from time to time. That is the nature of politics. That is the nature of the responsibility that falls on us as legislators. But I cannot recall, and I do not think any of my colleagues on this side of the house can recall, a situation where a member of the house moved a motion calling on another member to withdraw a Bill. Whatever people might think of that Bill, the member has every right to have it debated.

I am not going to reiterate what the Chief Minister has said. Mr Berry himself has indicated that this is a difficult issue, but we would be failing in our duty if we did not debate it. The issue simply will not go away. Members can exert on each other whatever means they wish to ask members to reconsider. We had a recent incident when Mr Rugendyke was foreshadowing legislation and, as a result of various consultations and points put to him by a number of people around this place and others, he decided not to proceed. That was entirely legitimate and sensible. But to move a motion like this, I think, goes against the very spirit of what legislation is all about, especially what private members legislation is all about. I think the Chief Minister has encapsulated the essence in terms of democracy and what that is all about, and I will not elaborate. I say again, Mr Speaker, that I think this is the first time I can recall a motion like this being brought forward in this house. It should be defeated.

MR RUGENDYKE (11.14): Mr Speaker, I will not be supporting Mr Berry's motion. It is clear to me that, if successful, this motion would set an unfortunate precedent, as described by previous speakers. Mr Osborne tabled this Bill last week amid a furore that he was intending to stifle debate. It was his right as an elected member of this Assembly, and it is a right that should not be denied. Last week we also listened to a chorus inside this chamber calling for the debate to go ahead. Mr Speaker, I believe that we should now let the process take its course. Therefore, I will not be supporting the motion.

MR HIRD (11.15): Mr Speaker, I find it very interesting that Mr Berry, not a week ago, was asking that the Bill be not dealt with forthwith, or that it stay on the table - I think they were his words - until December. Now he comes into this chamber and wants a different approach. I find that very interesting. Individuals in this place have rights. This is the ACT parliament. It represents its constituents. Mr Moore, for instance, on numerous occasions in the time that I have been in this parliament, has brought forward matters that I have disagreed with. However, I would defend his right to bring those matters into this chamber, and would do so very vigorously - that is what we are about - just as I will defend Mr Osborne's right to bring this legislation forward. Whether the subject is hard to deal with or it is a difficult problem that the community has to come to grips with, this is the place where the determination is made. We as legislators are charged with that responsibility.

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