Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 6 Hansard (22 June) . . Page.. 1618 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
The point about rising and not doing business for the next week is that that really is consistent with the intent of the Self-Government Act and the standing orders. The standing orders and the Self-Government Act are quite explicit in terms of the machinery that applies to the moving of a motion of no confidence in the Chief Minister. We have specific provisions in both the Self-Government Act and the standing orders. The Self-Government Act does act as the ACT's constitution. I take the point that Mr Kaine made in relation to that. The Self-Government Act is, in effect, the de facto constitution of the ACT and it is significant. It contains provisions in relation to the machinery that applies to motions of want of confidence in a Chief Minister. We need to respect the intent of that legislation and also of the standing orders.
We also need to accept that there is a precedent in relation to the two significant and serious motions of no confidence that have been moved in this place. The convention that was adopted in each of those cases was that the house did no business between the giving of notice of the motion of want of confidence and the debate on that motion. That is the precedent that this place has established in relation to the two serious no-confidence motions that have previously been dealt with in this Assembly.
Mr Wood: The serious ones.
MR STANHOPE: The serious ones, the ones that were not treated with some derision. The precedent is there. There is a convention in this place that business will not be done. The other point that has been made and that we should take note of is that it would be peculiar in the extreme, in the face of a notice of motion which has been delivered that there will be a debate of no confidence in the Chief Minister next week, if we spent the week debating legislation that goes to the heart of the responsibility of the Chief Minister and Treasurer - a number of revenue measures, a number of financial measures, the estimates, the Appropriation Bill and the budget. Is it being seriously suggested to us, in the face of a motion of want of confidence in the Chief Minister which will be debated in seven days' time, that we should spend a week debating a swag of the Chief Minister's legislation that goes directly to this Assembly's view of her capacity to be Treasurer and Chief Minister? Certainly not. That is a nonsensical suggestion.
There is a view that is consistently put by the crossbench, and in particular Mr Osborne. To the extent that Mr Osborne passes the Government's budget, its revenue measures, he is expressing confidence in the Government, because he has said time and time again that to do otherwise is tantamount to expressing no confidence in the Government. How can we debate this legislation which, if it fails to pass would be construed by Mr Osborne and others in this place as a vote of no confidence in the Chief Minister, in the face of a motion to that effect which has been tabled? It is simply a nonsense that we should proceed on that basis.
I take the point that Mr Moore has made in relation to the mental health legislation. We are mindful of the point that he raised. We do not resile from the point that it should not have been left until the last minute for this Assembly to be faced with the prospect of passing legislation in relation to which a sunset clause is vital.
Mr Moore: Two sitting weeks.