Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (24 March) . . Page.. 729 ..

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (11.22): This legislation raises a number of issues I would like to deal with. The first is retrospectivity. I see from Mr Kaine's acknowledgment across the chamber that the retrospectivity in this Bill is not important to him. As I understand it - and I am sure we will hear from him - the commencement date in the Bill is not fundamental to what he is trying to achieve. Therefore, I would suggest that members should consider voting against that clause. That would mean that the normal commencement provisions would apply.

There are other more fundamental issues here. The most important of those is the one that Mr Kaine raised in an interjection when Mrs Carnell was talking. That is whether a decision by a Minister should be a disallowable instrument. I have spoken in this house on many occasions encouraging members to make ministerial decisions disallowable in the Assembly. Why? It is a check and balance on government. Here I think it is a sensible check and balance on government.

Whenever we are dealing with checks and balances, it is worth keeping in mind the number of times that either disallowance or amendment has been moved. You could count them on one hand; at worst, two hands. Members go through decisions and say, "Yes, sensible decisions are being made". Ministers, in making decisions, are conscious that their decisions can be disallowed, so they make decisions that are likely to be accepted by the Assembly. If they are unsure, it is not uncommon - and this was my experience on the crossbench - to approach members to determine whether or not something is likely to be disallowed. They are some important fundamental issues that we are dealing with here.

One thing that comes out in this debate, something that all members need to consider, is whether 15 days for disallowance is an appropriate length of time. I do not recall the reason we made it 15 sitting days. Perhaps other members can recall why we went for such a long time. We would probably not like to see something introduced and dealt with in the normal two weeks of sitting. A member could miss out, because that is a busy time for members. I think we would want a period of days that would ensure that the time for disallowance went beyond one two-week sitting period. My view is that, if members are in agreement, we should revisit the Subordinate Laws Act and look at the 15 sitting days and perhaps change the number of days to six, or to seven so that the time for disallowance extends to the next period of sittings.

Mr Wood: I thought it used to be six.

MR MOORE: I hear an interjection from Mr Wood. That is something that we should debate. I think most members would agree that matters like this hanging for up to half a year is inappropriate. Probably when we are doing it we could also work into a disallowable instrument the ability for a government to bring it on. On a number of occasions we have used some interesting techniques to bring one on so that it was not disallowed and the matter was finished.

Another issue that always comes up is conflict of interest. Mr Quinlan interjected on the Chief Minister when she raised the question of whether Labor should be voting on this Bill. He said, "You accepted a donation from the casino". The editorial in the

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .