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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (5 May) . . Page.. 1350 ..

MR HUMPHRIES: We can disclose matters in Cabinet if it is the agreement of Cabinet, and I think it is.

Mr Corbell: When it suits you.

MR HUMPHRIES: Yes, when it is agreed. I am sure Mr Kaine, if he is so intent on proving how badly he was done by in Cabinet, would be happy to consent to the tabling of the Cabinet minutes. I am sure he would be happy to consent to that if he wants to have his position vindicated.

Mr Speaker, I foreshadow two amendments which have been circulated in my name. The fact is that this agreement is not unprecedented. It is used extensively by governments of both persuasions in this Territory and in other States. This process is simply not justified.

MR BERRY (11.59): In speaking to the motion, I would like to foreshadow an amendment which I have circulated in my name. It goes to the production of these documents and how we might deal with them in the future. This is an acceptance of the Government's argument that they cannot produce them by the close of business tomorrow, but it also sets a timetable which, in our view, is reasonable. That is, by 31 May these documents ought to be produced.

This gives us some time to consider the documents before the sittings commencing on 22 June. I understand that the Government's move is to take us to the end of the financial year, which would make it very difficult for us to bring back debate to this Assembly in respect of these matters, if that was our wish, in the June sittings. It is eminently sensible, in our view, to ensure that we give the Government reasonable time - that is, until the end of May, which is three weeks or so away - to collect the documents. Then there will be a reasonable time, though a tight timetable, for us to consider what we expect to be a significant number of documents and perhaps prepare a process of scrutiny for the Government at the sittings which commence on 22 June. I think in all the circumstances that is a reasonable outcome for everybody in relation to the matter.

We have given ground in relation to our earlier demands. We know that there is sympathy for the issue of principle which is contained within our motion, but this amendment satisfies the concerns of the Government in relation to the matter. Importantly, it also allows for you, Mr Speaker, to circulate these documents so that they are circulated by virtue of an order from the Assembly and therefore are an extension of Assembly business, attracting the usual protection that documents might have if tabled in this place. I say again, Mr Speaker, that the amendment that I foreshadow contests the one which has been circulated by Mr Humphries in relation to the matter and gives us access to these documents on a more reasonable occasion. I would like to have had the opportunity to talk to Mr Humphries about this before he circulated his amendments. It would have been handy if he had been able to take into account our views in relation to the matter before he went to argue his case in other places.

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