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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (21 June) . . Page.. 2312 ..

MR STANHOPE: It should. I am suggesting that, as a matter of course, it should always do so. I would have thought the government would do so as a matter of course. Maybe I am wrong about that. If I am wrong-

Mr Humphries: There have been exceptions to that.

MR STANHOPE: Okay, there have been exceptions. I am just saying that one would hope that, as a matter of course, the government would always respond to a committee report. I assumed that it did. I think that it is a matter of great regret that the government has not had an opportunity to respond to this report of this committee. The committee put in work. It took the report seriously. The committee opposed that part of this bill that has caused the debate here this morning. I think we have overlooked that in the context of this debate. We have had a committee of this place unanimously opposing retrospectivity. The committee comprised a member of the Labor Party, a member of the Liberal Party and two members of the crossbench and it unanimously opposed retrospectivity.

Mr Berry: All of them.

MR STANHOPE: All four members. It was a majority report. There was dissent from Mr Hird in relation to the period being six or 10 years, but the committee's report opposed retrospectivity. That was the report of a committee of this place. Mr Osborne has indicated-not as part of the majority, as I understand it-that he was not wedded to that position of the committee. Nevertheless, that was the committee's report. Two days later, without the benefit of the government's response to that and in the face of the Territory Records Bill, which deals with the same issue, we are debating and proceeding with the matter.

I agree with a number of comments that the Chief Minister made in his opening remarks in relation to this issue. I accept much of what he said in terms of the seriousness of this issue and the issues around the role the public service plays in advising cabinet and the role members of cabinet would wish to adopt in cabinet. We accept all that. The Chief Minister raised another important issue that was touched on by Ms Tucker. I think it should have formed part of a more detailed debate about this issue. I refer to the fact that so much of what our cabinet does is municipal in function and there could be a lot of ground for those of us within this place to differentiate between state-like cabinet consideration and municipal-like cabinet consideration.

There are two significant sorts of decisions to make. There are the sorts of decisions that the Queanbeyan City Council makes and our cabinet makes over which its hard to argue for any exemption from disclosure. This cabinet makes a whole range of decisions. For instance, the cabinet made decisions on whether dogs should be docked. I am not sure that a decision by cabinet on whether the docking of dogs should be exempt from public disclosure for six, 10 or 30 years bears much debate. That cabinet submission should be released today, as it would be in Queanbeyan if it were a decision of the council.

That is a debate we have not had. We have not had that debate because we are crashing through with this bill. But I accept much of what the Chief Minister said. That was the basis of my concern about the way we are dealing with this issue. This issue is serious and significant and we are dealing with it in a cavalier way. We are not dealing with it as

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