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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 6 Hansard (22 June) . . Page.. 1603 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

matters. The consequences are serious. The Opposition has not undertaken this course of action lightly. We have undertaken it only after the most serious consideration of all the issues involved in the proposed motion.

It is on the basis of those three points, Mr Speaker, that we propose as the only appropriate course of action for us to take at this stage that the Assembly should not meet for the next week. As I have said, the three points are, firstly, the seriousness of the issue; secondly, the incongruity of the Assembly meeting to discuss the business of the Government, namely, the budget revenue Bills and a whole range of issues going directly to the very motion that we will be debating next week; and, thirdly, because this Assembly has, in effect, established a convention, it is appropriate for it to suspend its business in the interregnum.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care)(10.38): Mr Speaker, I rise to oppose this motion. I do so because I am flabbergasted that the Leader of the Opposition, who is also the Opposition's spokesman on health, does not seem to understand the ramifications of this motion for legislation before the Assembly - for example, the mental health legislation that is before this Assembly for debate in this two weeks of sitting. Mr Stanhope had two options. He could have said, "Yes, we are going to debate the mental health legislation" or he could have come to the Government - after all, he is the spokesman on health and he knows about the mental health legislation - and said, "Before I do this, we will need to extend the sunset clause", because what will happen on 30 June is that we will have no mental health legislation at all in this Territory.

What does that mean? It means that the Mental Health Tribunal will cease to exist and, accordingly, will be unable to hear new applications or referrals or make any orders. It means that emergency detention and care provisions will no longer apply. It means that the provision regarding the rights of mentally dysfunctional persons will no longer apply. It means that the provisions regarding convulsive therapy and psychiatric surgery will no longer apply. It means that the provisions regarding referrals by the courts under the Crimes Act and the Children's Services Act will no longer apply. It means that the provisions regarding the Director of Mental Health, the Mental Health Council and private psychiatric institutions will no longer apply.

That is from the man who purports to be the next Chief Minister, who has put up this want-of-confidence motion so that he can be Chief Minister. He has not even thought through the issue. It is a mistake, Jon Stanhope. If it is a mistake that has been made because of the advice you have got from within your caucus or from within your party, you still have to wear responsibility for it. Of course you have to wear responsibility for it. You did not approach the Government saying, "We have got a want-of-confidence motion coming on. We want to adjourn the house immediately". We have business to get on with. We want to get on with the business of government and we want to make sure that the people who need the protection - - -

Mr Stanhope: Are you going to do it lawfully, Michael?

MR MOORE: Mr Stanhope, by your actions now you are going to remove all laws associated with mental health.

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