Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (28 October) . . Page.. 2351 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
Mr Speaker, I have very serious concerns about the credibility of what Mr Corbell told the Assembly yesterday. Can I put the allegation in the context of this debate, Mr Speaker? I think I can. It was clearly designed, I believe, to mislead the Assembly. The effect of it almost certainly was to mislead the Assembly. I believe the matter should be dealt with now. I have no intention of leaving the issue hanging. I believe it should be dealt with right now.
Mr Speaker, there are precedents for such motions coming on immediately and being dealt with in the course of question time. Mr Berry well knows that because he himself was one of the people that I believe has moved such motions in the past. There is a precedent for doing this. It is a serious matter. It touches on the question of the future debate about ACTEW and how truthfully it is conducted in this place and outside it. It is important that we be able to deal with these issues immediately. Mr Speaker, I press the case for this to be dealt with right now.
MR BERRY (2.50): The Opposition will be quite happy to proceed with a censure motion on this matter but we think it is most appropriate that members in this place have a chance to ask the questions that they are prepared to ask in question time. On occasions people have not been notified about censure motions, but I do not recall a censure motion interrupting question time. Perhaps I can be corrected on that, but I do not recall one interrupting question time. In any event, on the face of it, the censure motion is so weak that it ought not be allowed to interrupt question time. If you want to seek leave immediately at the conclusion of question time to deal with this, we will be quite happy to proceed.
MR KAINE (2.51): Mr Speaker, I do not support the motion to grant leave to the Minister to do this at this time. Question time is established each day for the purpose of holding Ministers accountable for their portfolios. This is a very nice ploy to avoid further questions. I am quite happy for the Minister to raise such a motion at the conclusion of question time, but I remind members that our standing orders require that question time is not completed until all non-Executive members of this place have asked a question. That is not the case at the moment. I think the Minister is asking a bit much to set aside question time so that he can deal with some petty matter which I think is quite irrelevant to the proceedings of the house.
MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (2.52): In terms of the suspension of standing orders, this is not a petty matter. When a member has misled the Assembly, it has always been taken as an incredibly serious matter. The accusation is that a member has misled the Assembly. Question time, Mr Kaine, would not be put aside - interrupted yes, but not put aside. I do not see any reason why, following this motion, we do not come right back to question time and continue the questions, as Mr Kaine pointed out, until every member rising has asked their question. The suspension of standing orders, as Mr Humphries put it, is entirely appropriate. The precedent has been set. It has always been the case in this Assembly where there has been an accusation of such a serious nature that it has been debated immediately - that is to the best of my recollection - and I think that we ought to deal with this now. Personally, I would much prefer to see Mr Corbell stand up in this Assembly, having looked at the figures, and say, "I apologise". If he were prepared to do that, I certainly would accept that, as indeed has happened previously. Under such circumstances, once the motion is put - - -