Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (2 February) . . Page.. 24 ..
MR MOORE (continuing):
Mr Speaker, there is a question in my mind as to whether we have a valid report when we have tabled in this Assembly a report that breaches standing orders. That is a question that I think needs to be answered. It is an invalid report. Mrs Carnell has dealt with the substance of the report and what it has done, but it is quite clear that there is a member of this Assembly who has said that he has not been protected by standing orders, he has not been protected by the chairman of the committee, he has not had a fair chance to have a say in having this report modified and in the end was forced to turn his proposed amendments into a dissenting report within a very short period. When you read the dissenting report, you can see that that is what has been done. It is basically the amendments to be put up, but they have not had the chance of being argued, talked through and then framed into what we would expect to be the normal form for a dissenting report, other than a top and tail paragraph. This is an appalling process. Mr Quinlan, it is one that you, in particular, ought to be ashamed of.
Mr Hird raised another issue, which I think is of great concern, considering the report. The resolution of appointment indicates that on 10 December 1998 the Assembly authorised the Speaker to give directions for the printing, circulation and publication of committee reports if the Assembly is not sitting when the committee has completed its report. Mr Wood was the Acting Speaker at the time. The question which has been raised by Mr Hird and which needs to be answered is: When was this committee report signed off? When did the Speaker authorise the publication of this committee report? Was it before or after the time Mr Hird did his dissenting report? That is a question that deserves to be answered because this report has been brought into question in a whole range of ways. It is not something that a member does lightly. In fact, it has not happened before. It has never happened that a member has stood up in this place and said, "I have been disenfranchised". This report has breached standing orders and, as such, ought to be considered invalid.
MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (12.04): Mr Speaker, I rise to congratulate the members of the committee and the members of staff involved in the preparation of the report. They had a very short timeframe and a very demanding task and, in the timeframe and with the limited resources available to them, they have produced a rigorous, detailed and considered report that has raised and sets out very clearly and succinctly a range of issues that go to the scenarios or the situations that we could consider as appropriate ways of dealing with the superannuation liability issue. They met their tasks to an exceedingly high standard and exceedingly well.
I will leave my comments on the issue of superannuation and the sale of ACTEW to the debate proper. The fact that we have been caught up in this nonsensical debate about the status of the report and the dissenting report is just a deliberate diversion from the question of this Government's determination to sell ACTEW. I do believe and do feel very strongly that the endorsement by the Chief Minister and the Minister for Health of Mr Hird's dissenting report is a silly and patronising joke. I have to say that it is, in effect, the last sad joke in the comedy of errors that have characterised the Government's failed campaign to sell ACTEW.
I will comment briefly on a couple of aspects of the charges made by Mr Hird. Challenges of breach of privilege, breaches of the privilege of this place, probably are the most serious accusations that one member can make against another. This is not a