Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (6 June) . . Page.. 2071 ..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
Whilst at this stage I am still not convinced that a committee inquiry will further the debate on this issue, I am willing to support an adjournment so we, as members of this Assembly, can have further discussions with the community, and allow the government to provide us with more information on the regulations they wish to hang off this bill.
MS TUCKER (6.01), in reply: It is obvious that the numbers are not there for this.
I will make a couple of comments in response to Ms Dundas. She seemed to put two arguments. I do not know if the first part was an argument, but she was saying that the committee already had other important work on-other inquiries. I accept that, of course, but I think this is very important. That is why I am referring it to the committee. As a committee, I believe we could give the time needed to do this work. So I do not accept that that is necessarily an argument, if that is what it was.
As to the other argument, Ms Dundas is nervous that the Liberals and Labor have already made up their minds. Ms Dundas should realise how flexible Labor can be. Ms Dundas, you need only look at Mr Hargreaves' words in the last Assembly. He is so flexible! Not long ago, he was saying, "I have a fundamental problem with allowing for something as final as death to be run by the private sector." He is now saying it is okay. He may, if he listens to the community, change his position again-as might Labor. We need to have hope here, Ms Dundas, because Mr Hargreaves has shown himself-and Labor have shown themselves-to be very flexible. They may well change their minds if there is proper community consultation.
The other point Ms Dundas made was that she feels there needs to be consultation with individual members and their constituents. I would suggest that, on behalf of the Assembly, the committee process is a very good way of giving the community an opportunity to put their views forward. It is particularly good because it is open, transparent and on the record. It is quite different from individual members being lobbied or quietly doing their own work-not that that is unimportant. However, the committee process is certainly a much more open and formal way of gauging the community view.
What concerns me about this is that it has not been flagged for what it is. In the few weeks we have had, we have not seen a clear discussion in terms of the intent of this bill, which is the privatisation of cemeteries. When it came up before, there was a lot of community interest.
I must repeat what I said earlier. I believe this is very important. Once it has been passed and cemeteries have been privatised, it is pretty well irreversible. We need to take this very seriously because it is something that would be very hard to change later. I ask again that Ms Dundas, in particular, reconsiders her position.
That Ms Tucker's motion be agreed to.