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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 2363 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

Governments, through use of their Executive power, should not, and indeed cannot, legislate on a conscience issue. They should seek to achieve their purpose in the usual way for such matters by introducing a private member's Bill. What we are witnessing in Mr Humphries' and Mr Smyth's proposed use of Executive power to adjust our abortion law can be interpreted as a crude and crass political manoeuvre to save Mrs Carnell and Mr Moore from the apparent embarrassment that their stand on this issue is causing them.

The Bill requires the Executive to take full and collective responsibility for all regulations in a number of steps. First, an Act of the Assembly must authorise or require the Executive to make regulations. Secondly, the Executive - the whole Executive - must approve the making of regulations. When regulations are made, they must expressly state that the Executive has approved their making. That is, whenever regulations are drafted, the Parliamentary Counsel must be instructed to include a regulation stating that the Executive has approved the regulations. Finally, one of the two Ministers who sign the regulations must be the responsible Minister who is defined as the Minister being responsible for administering the Act.

I am aware that the Administrative Arrangements Order made by the Chief Minister has a general provision allowing any Minister to act for any other Minister. That provision is designed to allow government business to proceed during the absence of any particular Minister. I would expect that if the Minister responsible for administering the Act is present in the ACT then that Minister must sign the regulations. I would not expect the responsible Minister to deliberately absent himself or herself so that some other Minister could sign the regulations. The responsible Minister cannot abdicate his or her responsibility.

I had considered including similar amendments to the Administration Act in relation to other instruments but decided not to proceed with them at this time. Usually the most important government policies are given effect through Acts and regulations, and I am hopeful that through these amendments the Government will accept the need for collective and individual responsibility and that collective and individual responsibility will be enforced in relation to them. That is not to say that other instruments will not be closely scrutinised and subject to disallowance if the Government attempts to use those instruments to avoid its responsibility for important policies.

Debate (on motion by Mr Humphries ) adjourned.


MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (11.54): Mr Speaker, I present the Discrimination Amendment Bill 1999, together with its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.

MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, I move:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

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