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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 2731 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

total dictatorship and say, "This place has no value and no worth whatsoever". I would suggest that Mr Rugendyke and Mr Osborne think more deeply about these questions, rather than accept the line put to them by the Government that "We have the right. Therefore, we will, and you don't have any right to object". I think it would be totally wrong if we accepted that.

As I said, I have no strong view, but I have had it put to me very strongly by community organisations, and a lot of them, representing a very large number of people that they are not happy with the arbitrary way that this is being done. They may well feel comfortable about it had it not been so arbitrary, if they had had some chance to express an opinion, if they had had some opportunity to be part of the decision-making process about people for whom they are concerned; but as things stand there is a lot of disquiet and a lot of concern. If we are going to be told that we may not object, that we may not express a view, that we may not suggest to the Government that they should change their view on this, personally I find that line quite unacceptable. I would expect that the members of this place would use their intelligence where they have a power available to them, and the crossbenchers do on issues like this when there is a minority government. If we opt not to use that power and say to the people out in the community who have these concerns, "We don't care about your concerns; the only thing we are concerned about is making sure that the Government is supported", I think we have a long way to go, Mr Speaker.

MR QUINLAN (4.04): Mr Speaker, I had not intended to participate in this debate, but I have to echo some of the sentiments of Mr Kaine. I find it a little ironic that Mr Osborne and Mr Rugendyke can fall back on fairly standard parliamentary convention when in previous debates in the last three or four months we have ignored Westminster principles totally.

MR HUMPHRIES (Treasurer, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Community Safety) (4.05): Mr Speaker, I will make a few comments in this debate. I think the argument about the parameters for the operation of the law have been put very clearly by the Government. The Government is not arguing that there should not be a expression of view by the Assembly. Obviously that is not the case. The Assembly will express a view about anything and everything. Given a long enough period of time, I am sure that it will.

The question is whether the Assembly can or should take steps in effect to force the Government to make a decision which is, we would argue, properly a decision for the Government to make. I have spoken in this place many times, Mr Speaker, about the way in which during the 10 years of self-government there has been a shift in the balance of power. Those shifts in balance of power have been occurring for centuries in other democratic processes. Five hundred years ago the Crown in England was a very powerful institution and the parliament was very weak. We have seen over a period of time parliament acquire power versus the Crown. In the ACT context we have had a transition as well. That transition has been rather less dramatic but nonetheless quite appreciable.

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