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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (8 December) . . Page.. 3263 ..


MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (7.32): Mr Speaker, I ask for leave to move a motion relating to the first day of sitting for 1999.

Leave granted.

MR HUMPHRIES: I thank members. I move:

That, at its rising from the sitting of Thursday, 10 December 1998, the next meeting of this Assembly be fixed for Tuesday, 2 February 1999 at 10.30 a.m.

This motion sets the first sitting date for 1999 as 2 February rather than a date two weeks after that, 16 February. The Government is proposing this because of its announced concern about the delay which would be effected by waiting until 16 February before the Assembly is able to deal with the motion and the legislation concerning the sale of ACTEW. Mr Speaker, the Government has made it very clear that its advice is that each week that goes past after this coming Sunday represents - - -

Mr Corbell: You have lost that debate, Gary.

MR HUMPHRIES: I know. I realise that but the point I am still making in respect of this date is that each week that passes after this coming Sunday - - -

Mr Berry: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think Mr Humphries is reflecting on an earlier debate.

MR SPEAKER: There is no point of order. I remind members that this is an important motion that affects everybody. I would suggest that you listen to the leader of government business.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, the Government's argument is that, as each week goes past, the risk which the Territory is exposed to by not having a decision on ACTEW is a risk that we should attempt to minimise. Indeed, we would argue that it is our duty to minimise that risk. The Government has been in negotiation with parties in this place about a suitable time to return, a time earlier than 16 February. It appears, from the best of my observations, that a date in January was not attainable. I therefore ask members to support the motion, which would fix 2 February as the sitting date. That is two weeks earlier than the date set down in the resolution from the last sitting of the Assembly. It is proposed that there be a single day of sitting - that is, that we sit only for that one day and return to sit again on 16 February and resume the pattern which has already been agreed to.

I know that members, particularly those who are opposed to the sale of ACTEW, will argue that two weeks' further delay will not be an inconvenience to anybody. I put on the table very unequivocally that it is the Government's view that we need to make this decision sooner rather than later because of the risk that we pose to the

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