Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (29 October) . . Page.. 2503 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
The Government, obviously, accepts that this is the view of the committee. The committee consists of members, none of whom are members of the Government. Mr Speaker, I would urge members to ask themselves whether it is, necessarily, the most sensible state of affairs not to have the legislation on the table. I fully accept that there should not be any attempt to pass legislation before the committee is ready to consider it, but I cannot quite see the logic of saying that the committee should not be able to see the legislation before that point. I would appreciate some comment on that in due course.
MR KAINE: I seek leave to speak again on this issue and to comment on the matters referred to by the Minister.
MR KAINE: Mr Speaker, the intention of the Chief Minister in terms of what she has conveyed to me is not just to table the legislation; she intends to go ahead and establish the commission. It is more than just tabling the legislation for either the Assembly or the committee itself to be aware of. It goes much further than that. Hence, the Chief Minister's statement that she wants to establish this new commission sooner rather than later. By that, I take it that she meant sooner than the time that we are scheduled to report, which is not until the first sitting day in February.
It is another one of these cases where, for some reason, the Government is placing rather undue haste on making a significant change, and that would deny to not only the committee but also the Assembly the ability to debate intelligently what the Government is proposing to do. It is rather more than just questioning whether the committee sees anything wrong with the Government tabling its draft legislation. If that was all the Government intended to do, I would say that that is probably a good thing, because the Assembly can then refer that legislation to the select committee. It would mean, perhaps, that our terms of reference would have to be modified because it does not include consideration of this matter as a separate reference at the moment.
If that were the intention, that would probably be a good thing, but my understanding of what the Chief Minister proposes is that there is an urgency to appoint this new commission in January. I understand that is based on the fact that the existing Casino Surveillance Authority runs out of time about the end of the year, to which my response would be to extend it for another three or four months, if needs be. But there appears to be an intention on the part of the Government to go ahead and create this new body while our committee is still looking at aspects of the matter that, perhaps, ought to be reflected in the legislation and certainly should be reflected in the operating charter of this new commission. We are putting the cart before the horse a bit. I would be quite reassured and quite prepared to operate on the basis that the Deputy Chief Minister wishes to start on, but I do not think that that is the Government's intention.
MR QUINLAN (5.27): I just want to endorse some of the things that Mr Kaine said. As shadow Minister for racing and gaming, I am anxious to get the findings of the select committee and to digest them and appreciate the direction that they represent before we make decisions as to how we will control racing and gaming in the Territory.