Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2426 ..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
I have not yet heard anyone from the government say that this bill is urgent and will be debated this week. It is normal, if you introduce bills on Tuesday, to have them debated on Thursday. I have not even heard if it is envisaged that this bill will be debated the following week. I understand that it may be debated in the next sittings. In that case, one wonders at the absolute necessity for it to be brought ion today rather than Thursday.
But I will hark back to the first point I made. It is a convention that, if a government wants to bring in a bill not in the normal course of events but bring it in early-on a Tuesday-it should at least have the decency to notify the other members of the Assembly. It has not done so in this case, and one has to wonder why. There might be some simple explanation, but one also has to wonder why the Chief Minister is seeking to bring it in now rather than on Thursday. I note again that my colleague Mr Smyth has foreshadowed bringing in bills in private members business and that maybe that has something to do with it.
I hope that, when we do have the debate on this important issue, we come up with good legislation because it is crucially important for our community. So many sporting and community groups have suffered. That is why the opposition has taken it seriously. I have had a few things to say about it myself. Mr Smyth has done some legislation. He has two bills on tomorrow, and I think he is working on some further ones as well. We take this issue very seriously.
It is not appropriate for the government to seek to bring it in now and the way they have gone about it. They have not indicated to the opposition that they intended to do so. Were they in our position, there would be no way in the world that they would agree to a suspension of standing orders.
MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming and Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Corrections) (12.03): Quite obviously, I support the motion. I agree with some of the terminology that Mr Stefaniak has introduced to this debate-for example, "petty politics". And Mr Stanhope has made some important points about whether we care about the community, whether we care about getting a decent result, whether we want to play petty politics and whether Mr Smyth tried to grandstand with a stunt out there with what was supposed to be a pony club but I think was a business. I am not sure.
But Mr Smyth has produced, if it is accepted at all, a dog's breakfast and a dog's breakfast that has been cobbled together outside the framework of the ministerial council meetings between the federal government and the state and territory governments to address the need for complementary legislation; the need for consistency; the need for federal legislation in relation to, say, changes to tax law to allow structured settlements; and the need for complementary legislation to work with the federal government's changes to the Trade Practices Act to allow for waivers.
What we saw as a result of petty politicking on the part of the opposition was businesses having people sign waivers and giving people the impression that they could participate in an activity if they signed these waivers. Those waivers had no force whatsoever but, misled by Mr Smyth, and quite clearly with the support of his party, people were told that the Smyth line was going to solve things.