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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (23 March) . . Page.. 712 ..

MS TUCKER (4.42), in reply: I might respond to that last point first. It appears we are going to now change how committees operate because we only allow experts to put in submissions on any given subject. Mr Rugendyke might like to think later about what he just said.

This is not a debate about immunisation. I totally agree with Jon Stanhope. This is a debate about open processes, the Assembly standing orders, and how the people in the ACT community believe that the committee system works. For a start, the people in the ACT community, I believe, are under the impression that the role of the chair of any committee is to put aside their personal views when taking on a committee inquiry and to look at evidence in an objective way. That is clearly not what occurred in this case. In this case the chair was obviously not aware that there was dissent in the community about the merit or not of immunisation. He was so surprised when he found out there was that he tried to shut the committee down, because he was concerned - - -

Mr Osborne: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Ms Tucker has clearly got it wrong. I said earlier the reasons why the inquiry did not go ahead.

MR SPEAKER: Order! There is no point of order. You may correct something at the end of Ms Tucker's speech, under standing order 46.

MS TUCKER: Mr Osborne was concerned because there were submissions that came in that did not agree with his position and basically he felt that the community would suffer in some way - be confused, I think he said - if there was a contrary view to the current view of the medical profession, or some of or most of the medical profession, not all. So what we have is the restriction of free right of debate within the community forum. Members of the community put time and effort into putting submissions on the subject to the committee. Normal processes did not occur there either because they were not authorised for publication, as would normally happen.

I was lobbied on the issue and I thought there had been a whole committee inquiry into this. I did not recall it reporting but I thought I might have missed it. In that way I discovered the sorry process that had occurred. The people in the community were not able to refer me to submissions that they had made for me to see what their views were, and the work they put into those submissions basically was lost. If we are concerned that there will be hysteria generated, as I think I just heard someone say - maybe it was Mr Osborne - by daring to have the discussion - - -

Mr Osborne: Oh, I have said everything.

MS TUCKER: Well, it may not have been Mr Osborne. I thought someone said we must not generate hysteria in the community by putting out these concerns, or whatever. I do not know if it was "hysteria". If we are concerned about the community becoming alarmed, there is one sure thing that will make the community alarmed and that is if they feel that government is taking the role of suppressing information or free debate. That is what will get the community alarmed.

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