Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (29 October) . . Page.. 2442 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
The signal they have sent to the community today is a disappointing one. In fact, it is a disgraceful one. No other issue could be more important. No other issue could be more serious. What a majority of members in this place are going to be saying today is that it does not matter. What they are going to be saying today is: "We will not give the people of Canberra an opportunity to present submissions. We will not give the people of Canberra an opportunity to say what they think. We will not give them the opportunity to come before a committee of this place and, with the protection of privilege, state clearly and openly what they feel". Instead, the people will continue to suffer the malaise of a debate which is governed by 10-second cliches in news grabs on nightly TV.
Is that the sort of public debate we want on this sort of issue? Is that the sort of level of information we are going to provide to people? Is that how we are going to engender this sort of discussion? Are we serious as a parliament in saying that we believe in consultation when that is the sort of attitude we adopt? I think it is disgraceful, Mr Speaker. I think it is absolutely disgraceful.
It is a cheap and redundant argument to suggest that just because some people have a view on this matter there is no point in having an inquiry. If that was the view we always adopted on these sorts of issues Mr Rugendyke would not have sat on the Urban Services Committee when it considered bus services for Canberra schoolchildren, because he supported a resolution which suggested that there should be only one zone. It is a silly argument, Mr Speaker. It does not make sense. The question I am left asking, Mr Speaker, is: What will the people of Canberra be thinking when this, the most important decision since self-government, will be left to be done behind closed doors?
MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (12.44): Mr Speaker, I think Mr Corbell is wrong about a number of matters. The first one is the final thing he said - that it is the most important decision since self-government. Yes, this is a very important decision, but to suggest it is the most important decision since self-government is nonsense. I can think of a number of decisions that were much more important. One was to do with the Electoral Act, which was debated in this Assembly, and the way this Assembly is structured, the way we work. I think a much more important decision was made on the issue of citizen-initiated referenda, which I have long opposed and will continue to oppose.
Mr Corbell is angry, he says, Mr Speaker, and, yes, I can understand that anger. The real anger though is because the plan of the Labor Party, in particular, and Ms Tucker to a much lesser extent - she has an entirely different set of motives, I think - is likely to be thwarted. The result of the plan is, unfortunately, to politicise the committee system. An example was used earlier of the Select Committee on Euthanasia. I must say that if I had that to do again I would do it very differently. I think there were some significant mistakes. I think it was a mistake for me to go on that as the chair. That was the biggest mistake. Yes, I had the numbers to do it and I did it, but I think that was the wrong way to go.
I think we have a very clear-cut case here where there is such a strong ideological divide on this issue. Those who oppose privatisation in any of its forms, the Labor Party, are opposed to the rest of us who will look at these issues and think about them. That was illustrated very clearly, Mr Speaker, during the Estimates Committee when