Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 2367 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (Treasurer, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Community Safety): Mr Speaker, I seek leave to make a statement to the Assembly concerning the management of business.
Leave not granted.
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I move:
That so much of the standing and temporary orders be suspended as would prevent Mr Humphries making a statement on the management of Assembly business.
I have to indicate that the Government is gravely concerned about the way in which the management of business on the floor of the Assembly has gone in the last few days. Unfortunately, it is a reflection of what was occurring over a number of weeks in the last period of sittings. The Government has tried to be flexible about management of business.
Mr Berry: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. He does not have leave.
MR HUMPHRIES: I am giving you a preview of what I want to talk about in my statement, Mr Berry, so you know why I need to be able to make this statement. Mr Speaker, we have here the issue of fairness in the management of the Assembly's business. Yesterday the Assembly was confronted with a notice paper which included a reasonable amount of government business. There were four significant Bills on the program - the Environment Protection (Amendment) Bill, the Electricity (Amendment) Bill and two gambling Bills. Other Bills which had been put down provisionally for that date had been put over at the request of members who wanted more time to consider them. We had pared back government business to four Bills.
We had indicated last Wednesday, almost a week before, that the Government wanted to debate those four Bills and asked at that time for an indication of what members views were about those Bills. The night before the debate was to begin on those Bills, we had indications from members that they were not ready to deal with two of them. So the electricity Bill and the environment Bill went off for adjournment maybe to the next day, maybe to the next week, maybe to a date later than that. Half the Government's business went in one fell swoop. Then the only two Bills the Government had remaining on the program for yesterday were further delayed because amendments we had not yet seen came forward. The net effect of that, Mr Speaker, was that in the course of yesterday the Government was not able to deal with any Bills.
Mr Speaker, we acceded to the request to adjourn those two Bills - somewhat reluctantly, I concede - on the basis that members are entitled, within reason, to come back to this place and say, "I am not ready to deal with the Bill", and have the extra time they need to be able to deal with a Bill because some pertinent matter has come forward.