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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (20 October) . . Page.. 3360 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Secondly, the Workplace Relations Act applies to the ACT by paramount force, and the ACT cannot change that legislation. The Federal Parliament can, but the ACT cannot. We can change ACT legislation, we cannot change the Workplace Relations Act. The third point, Mr Speaker, is that the breach of the Financial Management Act was unintentional. The breach which is being urged on us with the Workplace Relations Act is not only intentional but quite deliberate and quite calculated, and at the behest of the parliament. So, Mr Speaker, there are differences between the two situations, but all of them point to the fact that what is being urged in this motion is a more serious breach of the law than was the case with the Financial Management Act. But Mr Berry thinks there is a difference.

Mr Quinlan: That is really a long bow, Gary.

MR HUMPHRIES: Well, Mr Speaker, I have tabled the advice. That is what the advice clearly says; I am not making it up. The advice I have tabled is quite clear, and I say to members that, if they believe the advice is untrue, well, then that is fine. (Extension of time granted) It is open to them to argue against the Government Solicitor's advice if they believe it to be inaccurate. But I expect that they will produce other advice to indicate that there is some flaw in the Government Solicitor's advice. But it is absolutely clear. It refers to what the Assembly is being asked to do. So, assuming that what the bursars did was considered industrial action, then that is illegal and beyond the power of the Assembly or the Government. Mr Speaker, that is where it stands.

I do not know what the Assembly wants the Government to do. The Assembly was most adamant that the Government not break the law, and that the Government be punished for breaking the law earlier this year. Now it says that the Government should break the law. I look forward to elucidation from the Assembly about exactly what they want this Government to do.

MR KAINE (11.59): Mr Speaker, I find myself in a quandary and I am sure other members of this place do also. Instinctively, and in the interests of natural justice, we tend to support the proposition put forward by Mr Berry. It would seem that there is some justice in adopting this motion. The Government now tells us that there is an illegality in that. Clearly, we would be foolish to support a motion that would be condoning something that was illegal. In any case it would go nowhere because the Federal law overrides it. But, Mr Speaker, we have had competing legal opinions in this place quite recently. One was on the matter that the Attorney-General has been referring to, where the Government got a legal opinion that favoured it. Of course, there were two other legal opinions that were not so supportive of the government view.

In this case the Government has been quick to get a legal opinion, but are we to accept, without question, that that legal opinion is the final say on the matter? I suspect not. The Government has proposed that what this motion seeks to do would be ineffective, because it deals with an illegal act and would therefore be overwritten by Commonwealth law. I think that is what the Government is saying. I think that Mr Berry, the proponent, should have an opportunity to test that. If I was forced to vote on this issue now, based on the Government's advice, I would have to vote against Mr Berry's motion.

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