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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (18 February) . . Page.. 350 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, the intention of having this debate is fairly clear. I do not think there is scope in this debate today about the suspension of standing orders to go into the detail of that motion and to explain why we are having that particular debate, but it is important, nonetheless, to ensure that there is a reasonable opportunity to have adequate time to respond to the issues which are raised in that motion.

Members will see by considering the motion that it covers, in a sense, the essential criteria which a government needs to consider when it is putting together a budget. The issues covered in paragraph (2) of the motion are very broad. They are, in a sense, as broad as the consideration of a whole budget. The point has been made by some in the broader debate in the community that having an issue as wide as that, as wide as the budget itself, probably demands consideration by the Assembly on as broad a basis as one can engineer. Members are aware that motions relating to the budget have a wider ambit for members to speak on and to move motions relating to other matters. However, in this particular case, because of the breadth of issues which might be covered, I think it is appropriate to put it to the Assembly that there is a chance for members to speak for longer than usual.

I have suggested that we simply suspend standing order 69, which limits the amount of time members may speak on a matter, for the duration of this debate on this item.

Mr Moore: It does limit it to the day.

MR HUMPHRIES: That is true. It is limited to that particular day, and to this particular item on this particular day. After this item is over we will go back to the usual application of standing order 69.

Members will see, in looking at standing order 69, that different time periods are prescribed for different matters. However, I think the relevant section for the purposes of a debate like this would normally be standing order 69(i). If not otherwise provided for, in the case of the first two speakers at least, members would have 15 minutes each to speak on the matter, and each subsequent speaker would have 10 minutes. If every member wished to speak on the matter, most members would have 10 minutes to speak plus a further five minutes by way of an extension of time. Members have made the point, including, I think, Mr Kaine and others, that 15 minutes to cover the breadth of issues which go into a responsible fiscal framework is simply not enough time.

Mr Berry: One day is though. What a joke!

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, my prediction is that members will have more than enough time on that one day, even with standing order 69 removed, to be able to cover these issues adequately. If the Labor Party is going to take part in that debate in a fulsome way and take up the spirit of what is being attempted here to have the fiscal issues put on the table and properly debated, if as some in this debate have said that the Government has ignored or is missing the underlying issues in this particular construction of a budget, or any budget for that matter, then this is an opportunity to deal with those issues. Quite rightly, it cannot be done in the space of just 15 minutes for each speaker, so I think it is appropriate to move for the suspension of standing orders.

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