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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (9 April) . . Page.. 824 ..

Mr Corbell: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. Mr Pratt should know that questions can only be directed to ministers for their areas of responsibility. Comments in relation to the operation of the Australian Labor Party at a national level are not the responsibility of Mr Stanhope. The question is out of order.

Mr PRATT: Mr Speaker, I believe I have a right to ask a question on a leadership issue.

MR SPEAKER: I do not think Mr Stanhope is responsible-he was not last time I looked, anyway-for the national office of the Australian Labor Party. The point Mr Corbell has made is a good one. I would therefore rule the question out of order.

Ministerial Council on Corporations

MR CORNWELL: Perhaps you would like to answer this one, Mr Stanhope, in your capacity as Attorney-General. In a press release dated 8 March you asserted that the ACT had lost its place on the Ministerial Council on Corporations under the former Liberal government. Is it a fact that this is not the case, Attorney-General, because the ACT has never had a place on the Ministerial Council on Corporations since the council was first set up under the Hawke federal Labor government? Have you had a chance to be better advised and reconsider the media release? Would you like to take the opportunity to correct the record?

MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Mr Cornwell. When you referred to a press release of 8 March, as did Ms Dundas, I thought, "Goodness me, Mr Cornwell and Ms Dundas are collaborating on gay law rights." I had a vision of Mr Cornwell and Ms Dundas getting together to talk about gay law reform. I commend you for that, Mr Cornwell.

Yes, Mr Cornwell, I am very aware of the issue. It is a major concern for the ACT that under the self-government act we do not have a constitutional role and responsibility for corporations. It is a major inhibitor in a whole range of areas. This was reflected in the last sitting period when, as a matter of urgency, we had to delay the introduction of amendments to legislation on the operation of pharmacies because, from the advice that I have and advice that I understand was available to the previous government but ignored by them, the proposed provisions were probably ultra vires. This raises an interesting issue in itself, that the previous government was prepared to go ahead with legislation which was ultra vires the corporations power.

Of course, this is the very issue that goes to the heart of your question, Mr Cornwell, that there are a whole range of areas now in the day-to-day management of the territory in respect of which our incapacity to legislate in relation to corporations is a major difficulty in going about our daily business. There is a real and I think quite genuine concern that there perhaps is a raft of legislation, some of it quite significant legislation, that has been passed by this place over the years that I think is quite likely invalid. That is a major concern.

Mr Humphries: Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. This is a fascinating answer but it is not an answer to the question that Mr Cornwell asked. Mr Cornwell asked about whether the ACT has ever been a member of the Ministerial Council on Corporations.

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