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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 2215 ..

MR KAINE: My reasons, I think, are pretty simple and Mr Moore might be prepared to listen to them. My first argument against this proposal is that already one-third of the time of this house is taken up in private members business. One sitting day out of every three is devoted to private members business. In my view that is an adequate allocation of time to deal with matters of private business. I do not see the need to extend it further by providing additional time on Thursdays for this purpose.

My other argument, and I will keep it short, is that if an Executive member wishes to step aside from their executive role and put private members business before this place they can do it the same as everybody else does. They can submit it as a matter of private business. It will be considered by the Administration and Procedure Committee as to when and how it is fitted into the program on Wednesdays, and it will take its turn in a reasonable and fair way.

What the Government is proposing is that the four members of the Executive have special consideration for their private business, because there is only one person who is going to determine it and that is the Manager of Government Business. That gives them far greater precedence in terms of time to present private member business than any other member of this place has. The rest of us all have to take our turn and take our time and argue the merits of our private members business in the forum of the Administration and Procedure Committee in order to get a priority for it. I do not see the need to give an Executive member that precedence, and nor do I see the need to give someone extra time over and above the one day of a sitting week that private members business is already devoted to. I think the proposal is unreasonable. There is a procedure already whereby an Executive member can move or seek to move private members business if he or she so chooses. I do not agree with the proposal.

MR WOOD (4.57): Mr Speaker, the Opposition supports this motion, though with no great enthusiasm, I might say, and we take a different view from that expressed by Mr Kaine. If private members business is going to be done by a Minister, we argued before that it should be done in government business time, so we will support it. We believe that Mr Moore has enough problems in the health system and that he should focus pretty much on those and leave, I think, pretty inconsequential matters like this, such as whether someone can put a bit of paper under a windscreen wiper, in abeyance. He should concentrate on the very important issues he has in his portfolio.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (4.58): Mr Speaker, I would like to respond to a couple of things that Mr Kaine said. Mr Kaine, in fact I shared your opinion on this, and members of the Labor Party, in particular, indicated to me that they disagreed with you, as Mr Wood has now. But, in discussion with members of the secretariat, a very valid point was raised for me and that is that when Executive members are able to do their business in private members time, although that may be a useful device now, one could see it being used in a majority government as a way of undermining private members business. I think, in all the things that we do, we must take care to protect the nature of democracy. If we do not have enough time we should consider whether we are sitting enough days. That is always an option for us if we find that we are sitting until late at night or early in the morning, as has been the case on occasions. If it happens on other than the odd occasion we ought to say to ourselves, "Perhaps we do not have enough sitting days to do the business of the house that we have before us".

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