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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 6 Hansard (22 June) . . Page.. 1610 ..

MR RUGENDYKE (11.02): Mr Speaker, what an absurd situation we have here! On the one hand, we have a Liberal government doing its level best to relinquish government to the Labor Party simply through the promulgation of the most foolish letter I have ever seen, and on the other we have the Labor Party, knowing how high I set the bar on these matters of want of confidence, arguing over whether we ought to suspend the house in the meantime. The bar should be getting lower, Jon, but it is going up with each speech from the loony left here.

We have heard the speech of Mr Moore, who says that failure to debate the mental health legislation would mean that there would be no mental health legislation. How could someone purporting to be the Leader of Opposition argue against that? Mr Speaker, let us get on with it. Pursuant to standing order 70, I move:

That the question be now put.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Rugendyke, I have an option as to whether to put such a motion. Under the circumstances, having had five speakers, I think I will allow a little more debate. Mr Humphries will be the second government speaker.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (11.04): I rise to oppose this motion, Mr Speaker. Under normal circumstances the precedent that Mr Kaine has referred to would be a very persuasive precedent. There have been a number of occasions when such motions have been moved in the past and, generally speaking, there has been an adjournment of the Assembly. I might say that it has not always been supported by the government of the day. On a quick reading of the debate in 1989, the then Labor Government opposed adjourning the Assembly while the motion of want of confidence rested for the compulsory seven days. I concede that one's perspective changes, depending on which side of the house one is on.

Mr Speaker, we have just had a motion of considerable gravity put on notice in this place. Mr Kaine said that someone was describing it as trivial. Certainly nobody on this side of the house would describe such a motion as trivial. It is not trivial. Under normal circumstances, Mr Speaker, I think it would be appropriate to suspend the house for seven days while members took stock of their position and considered the arguments. However, this is not a usual time, a usual position, to be in. We are within a few days of the end of the financial year and a number of important things will happen in the next few days. If we do not attend to them pursuant to our duty in this place, we will find ourselves in considerable difficulty. What is more, not only will we find ourselves in difficulty as custodians of the laws of the Territory, but also the Territory itself will find itself in considerable difficulty, particularly people in certain sectors, such as those who depend on the services of the Mental Health Tribunal.

Mr Speaker, the legislation that Mr Moore has referred to is extremely important. I have to say to members that we should not be in the business of denying that jurisdiction if we can avoid it. We must deal with this legislation because the Assembly itself set a sunset clause of 30 June and that sunset clause expires in a few days' time. If we do not sit between now and next Wednesday, as is proposed by Mr Stanhope's

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