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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (27 March) . . Page.. 898 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

I do not think that Mr Moore, as the Manager of Government Business, can have his cake and eat it as well by adopting the punitive provisions of the House of Representatives and the Senate standing orders but not the others that would remove the frustration in the first place. But I repeat that we have never found a need for this before and it is a matter of some concern that the government's resort, having lost a vote, is to seek to change the standing orders so that it can never lose a vote in similar circumstances again. Is that democracy? Is that what this place is about? Should we amend the standing orders always to protect the government's position, whatever it is? That, I believe, is inherently wrong.

Mr Speaker, you have available to you sanctions that you can use against members now. I know that it requires the little formality of your naming the person and, in most cases, the Manager of Government Business having to move that the services of the offending member be dispensed with. That little formality is in the way of arbitrarily throwing somebody out of this democratic chamber, this chamber which the government purports to run in an open and accountable way. There are little impediments in the way of an arbitrary exercising of power. It is appropriate that there are some mechanisms that are required to be met if a member, in the mind of the government, offends the government. That is where the perception has to lie before any punitive action is taken.

I believe, first of all, that if the government feels offended it should not have the power to amend the standing orders to allow it to do whatever it wants in a punitive way and, secondly, that there ought to be one or two little impediments in the way of that, and the present standing orders provide for them. I do not believe that what the Manager of Government Business is now proposing is necessary or desirable because, Mr Speaker, you have existing powers that ought to be quite adequate. For that reason, Mr Speaker, I oppose the motion that Mr Moore is putting forward.

MR OSBORNE (11.13): I feel somewhat responsible for this mess, given that I was not here at the time. Mr Rugendyke and I are often criticised for our actions when we think that we are providing stability. We often make decisions that we think are in the best interests of this Assembly. It is interesting that this happened the first time we were not both here. If we had followed the philosophy of some other people in this place, we would be still arguing about the Assembly shutdown. We are here a few weeks later arguing about the same thing. I think that some of us on the crossbench here do accept that we have a responsibility.

I was very disappointed, I have to say, when I became aware of what happened. I had leave of the Assembly, obviously, through the birth of my latest son and I was very disappointed when Ms Tucker refused to give me a pair on the vote about you, Mr Speaker. We have discussed this matter. She has given some explanations, and I accept them, but I was disappointed because Mr Rugendyke did attempt to secure a pair for me on that issue. My office had spoken to me, Mr Speaker. Whether Mr Rugendyke got that message beforehand, I have not discussed with him as yet, but I had been contacted by my office. I have been very consistent in my support of you as Speaker over the years and I will support you again today. If I had been here for the vote last time, Mr Kaine would have been out. I may have enjoyed kicking him out, Mr Speaker.

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