Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 2 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 571 ..
MR KAINE (continuing):
... it reflects the prejudices of those who appeared before the committee who were opposed to the proposal ...
Well, I have skimmed through the report. I do not see the reflection of anybody's prejudices in this report, except perhaps those of the Government, and Mr Hird representing the Government rather than representing Mr Hird; so I find this dissenting report quite offensive, and I am not a member of the committee. I can understand that the other members of the committee would find it quite offensive that a member who participated, presumably, in all the proceedings, and took no objection, made no comment until the report is prepared, then dissents totally from everything that happened. No committee in my recollection in the 10 years of this Assembly has ever been so far off the beam that one of its members has totally rejected the entire report.
I also do have to ask, Mr Speaker: Who actually wrote this dissenting report? There has been some question in relation to a previous report about the comments of one of the members. It was pretty strongly asserted, and believed, I think, that the report was not written by the member who submitted it, and I wonder in this case whether Mr Hird can explain to us what the word "pejorative" means. He says that it uses pejorative language. If Mr Hird does not know what the word "pejorative" means you have to assume that somebody else wrote this for him, and I suspect they did. For that reason alone, Mr Speaker, I would think that the dissenting report ought to be rejected. If it has not been written by the member who has his name on it, it ought to be rejected as representing somebody else's views and not necessarily his own.
Mr Speaker, it is unusual to adopt the report and to reject the dissenting report, but I think in this case there is some justification for that, and I support the amendment.
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (11.55): Mr Speaker, I want to put to the Assembly in the strongest possible terms that they should reject an amendment of this kind. Members have sought to characterise what Mr Hird has done as unprecedented and is therefore a ground for moving an amendment like this. What is unprecedented, Mr Speaker, is not what Mr Hird has put in his report. I am sure I could produce at least three other reports of the Assembly which, contrary to what Mr Kaine says, have rejected the entirety of the majority reports which the reports have dissented from. What is unprecedented is the concept of the Assembly picking up, in the course of debating a motion to note a report, a rejection of one dissenting report which has just been put to the Assembly.
Mr Speaker, this is a 50-page report which has just been handed down to the Assembly, with one member of the committee exercising his right, his absolute right, in the processes of committee deliberations, to express dissent from the view of the majority, and to do so in strong language. It is Mr Hird's right to do so. It has been the right of many members in this place, in this parliament and the three preceding parliaments, to do precisely the same thing. The tradition of the Assembly, indeed, the requirement of the Assembly, is that the report be received by the Assembly and that a dissenting report be added to the report agreed to by the committee. That is provided for in standing order 251. It is dangerous in the extreme for the Assembly to be asked now to start to judge the content of a report - - -