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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 2408 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

This is a rushed decision and there is absolutely no reason for it. I commend Ms Tucker's motion to the Assembly and trust that Mr Osborne will put the kids first and vote for the motion.

MR KAINE (4.08): I have been listening quietly to this debate, trying to take in what everybody has said. It seems to me that the issues here have been set aside in favour of a debate about where power resides and how it is exercised. The Chief Minister rests on the assertion that the legislation gives her the power and she has exercised it. That is true, but in exercising that sort of power there is due process and I think that it is a little bit arbitrary for any Minister simply to say, "Because the legislation gives me the power, I have done it or I am going to do it", because there are lots of other people involved in this issue and a lot of them have different views about what the outcome should be. In fact, next Monday I will have people coming to see me who have real concerns about the Government's actions.

Ms Tucker: And they know a lot more about it.

MR KAINE: I suggest that they probably do know a lot more about the issue. In spite of the fact that they are aware that the matter may well be disposed of today, they still want to come and talk to me about it next week. That is the community - the interested community, the concerned community - wanting to express their view. When a government has this power, there is the question of how you exercise it. Certainly the Chief Minister or any other Minister can say arbitrarily, "I have the power and I have done this". They can do that if they are prepared to weather the whole gamut of responses - the media's response, public opinion, debate in this place and approval or non-approval - and, finally, of course, if they are prepared to tolerate the response that they get from the people who are most directly concerned by that decision.

The correspondence that I am getting is not favourable to the Chief Minister and the Government. The Chief Minister can take that decision if she is prepared to weather all of that at the end of the day and say, "It is my responsibility and I did it". I do not think that that is a sensible way for any government to go.

Mr Hargreaves: You do not have to.

MR KAINE: And it is unnecessary because the decision seems to rest on a coroner's recommendations. First of all, the coroner's recommendations are not binding on the Government. Secondly, in this case there was a qualification which the Chief Minister and the Government seem to have conveniently set aside, and that qualification is that there should be an inquiry. The Chief Minister has chosen to ignore that bit and say, "We are going to do this anyway and then we will look over the shoulder and see where the shrapnel falls". I think that is, to put it mildly, unwise on the part of the Government. There are real issues here which I believe the Government should take into account. The Government has made its decision. That is not a decision that cannot be undone.

I suspect, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, that prudence would dictate under the circumstances that the Government review that decision and set it aside until all of the interested people have had an opportunity to express their view and have those views heard and taken into account before the decision is implemented. I can only say that

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