Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2952 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
My next point is perhaps the most important one. I was thinking about precedents. Mr Humphries raised the issue of precedents. I was thinking about the principle that was established, if you see it this way, last year when we were debating a Bill proposed by Mr Moore. It was in relation to allowing voluntary euthanasia in the Territory. The Bill got to the in-principle debate. Every member in that Assembly, the Third Assembly, spoke to the Bill. Every member had declared their position on the Bill, for or against, except one. That member stood up and said, "I am not sure. I am not confident that I have all the information available to me to make an informed decision. I want more time". That member was Mrs Littlewood.
Mrs Littlewood then moved to adjourn the Bill. On that occasion the Assembly said, "We respect your view; we respect your need for further information". The Assembly agreed to adjourn the Bill. It had not even gone to a vote. The Assembly agreed to adjourn the Bill because there was a member, on a conscience vote issue, who did not believe they had had adequate time or information to make an informed decision. My question is: What has changed?
Mr Stefaniak would argue that what has changed is that this is not a new Bill; that Mr Osborne introduced this Bill three months ago and we have had plenty of time. If Mr Stefaniak had heard the comments made by Mr Osborne in his summing-up in the in-principle debate he would know that Mr Osborne said that this is a different Bill. This is different from what he proposed before. If it is different the Bill that was introduced three months ago is not relevant, Mr Speaker. It is a new Bill and it was introduced a week ago. Amendments were provided less than 24 hours ago. So maybe Mr Stefaniak should think again about his argument.
Mr Speaker, the final point I want to make is in relation to another point made by Mr Stefaniak about the composition of the committee. This was a vexed issue for me when Mr Berry first raised it with me. I was of the view that all members of the Assembly, Executive and non-Executive alike, should be members of the committee. I believed at the time that that was the most appropriate course of action to take. When Mr Berry flagged this with me I thought about it some more and I came to the conclusion that there is a convention in parliaments that members of the Executive are not on committees. That applies in our other standing committees and there is an important convention there that needs to be addressed. For that reason I felt it was appropriate to say all non-Executive members.
If Mr Stefaniak cites that as a reason for not supporting this motion for a select committee, why does he not move an amendment? I would support it. Why does he not move an amendment to put in all members and remove the distinction between Executive and non-Executive members? If that addresses the concern, let us do it, because, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, the important thing for me at the end of the day is that we have a process which is open, which is understandable and which is an avenue for people in Canberra to address their views on this most important piece of legislation. I thank the Assembly for its indulgence.