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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (20 October) . . Page.. 3339 ..

MR BERRY: Mr Speaker, since you have mentioned the Select Committee on the Workers' Compensation System, if you want us to meet on any special day, please raise it in the committee meeting and we will deal with that - if you are insisting on any particular date.

As I said, this is a move towards consistency with New South Wales. It makes no sense for this small island in New South Wales not to have this small public holiday, this small benefit. We should at least give this benefit to ACT workers and not rely on the lowest common denominator, which is usually the case with the conservative Carnell Government. The conservative Carnell Government hates anything that goes to the workers. We will debate later another issue later which will demonstrate their mean-spiritedness in relation to a whole range of issues. There is no difference in their attitude to these sorts of things, and I expect that that will not surprise the community. I am never embarrassed about providing benefits to workers, and I am never embarrassed to rise to prevent people like you taking their benefits off them.

Debate (on motion by Ms Carnell ) adjourned.


MR QUINLAN (10.45) I present the Auditor-General Amendment Bill 1999, together with its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.

MR QUINLAN: The Auditor-General Amendment Bill 1999 will permit the reports of the Auditor-General to be published without first having been presented to the Assembly. The Auditor-General will hand the completed report to the Speaker or the Deputy Speaker in the Speaker's absence. As soon as the report is handed to the Speaker, it will be considered to have been officially presented. The publication of the report is taken to have been ordered and authorised by the Legislative Assembly once this report is handed to the Speaker. Upon receipt of the report, the Speaker may give directions for the printing and circulation of the report as soon as practicable after receiving the report.

As members are aware, the winter break in this place is the best part of eight weeks in duration, and the summer break is closer to 10 weeks. These are long periods for information to wait for publication. There may well be times when a report warrants immediate publication in the interests of informed public debate. We are all interested in open government and open public debate, are we not?

There is nothing unique about this particular Bill. Similar provisions apply in Western Australia, New South Wales and in the Federal Senate. In fact, the provisions of this Bill are modelled on those that operate in the Australian Senate. Let us face it: The presentation of audit reports by the Speaker is purely a ritualistic process. We do not debate immediately whether or not they should be published. Reports are simply presented, and they immediately become public documents and available to all. This Bill simply removes possible artificial hold-ups. I move:

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