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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (24 March) . . Page.. 727 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

Before I sit down, let me refer quickly to the conflict of interest that the Chief Minister referred to. I have to observe that, having read the electoral returns, I can see that the Liberal Party and in particular Mrs Carnell received support from various business concerns, including the very clandestine 250 Club. As we do not know what the interests of the members of the 250 Club are, extending the Chief Minister's logic, there are very few decisions that those opposite could involve themselves in without the risk of a conflict of interest. I think that it is rather a spurious line that is drawn and a nonsense that is trotted out from time to time, not to specifically mention Mr Moore's direct support for the AHA once upon a time. We have no objection to the legislation, Mr Moore, and we expect that you will be voting for it as well, based on your history.

MS TUCKER (11.15): We will be supporting this piece of legislation. I have listened to the arguments. I was interested to hear Mrs Carnell say that she thought it was offensive because it was not about unfettered ministerial power. She said that the Westminster system is about the Executive making decisions, but most of us also understand that the Westminster system has a number of accountability mechanisms within it to make sure that there is not total power in the Executive, particularly in the ACT, where we continually get minority governments. I would have thought the Chief Minister would understand by now that there is broad support in the ACT community for mechanisms to be put in place to ensure that there is not too much unfettered power in the Executive.

Disallowable instruments are obviously one way that you can bring things to this Assembly. If Mrs Carnell thinks that a period of 15 sitting days is too long in this particular matter, then obviously you would have to look at why is it not too long for every other disallowable instrument. If that is the proposal, then we will no doubt have a debate about that on another day, for the sake of consistency.

Mrs Carnell also expressed grave concern because she felt that we were somehow imperilling commercial certainty. We in the Assembly are interested in the broader public interest issues. We are concerned that what are being imperilled are some broader public interest concerns. That is the balance that we are taking in this Assembly. We are obviously interested in the commercial sector having certainty, but we are also interested in the public benefit or public interest being looked after in processes in this Assembly. As I understand Mr Kaine's legislation, that is exactly what he is attempting to do in this instance.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (11.17): I want to make it clear that the Government is not indicating its opposition to this legislation. The Government has indicated, though, that not too much should be read into the legislation by way of the argument of correcting an anomaly that is supposed to exist in the legislation. I take the point Ms Tucker made a moment ago when she suggested that this is about wider accountability, a wider opportunity for the community, via members of the Assembly, to be able to question decisions made by Ministers and governments, and that this is a desirable process. Indeed, it can be seen as that. It depends very much on what kind of decision we are talking about.

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