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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 12 Hansard (12 November) . . Page.. 3413 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

Mr Speaker, as I understand it, the reason for this delay is that Ms Dundas was away for a large part of the inquiry. Ms Dundas knew she would be away when she agreed to the reporting date for the inquiry. I do not believe it is acceptable for this legislation to be delayed to such an extent. It is over 12 months into the term of this government and this legislation will not now be passed, or even debated by this place, despite it having been introduced in the middle of this year. I do not believe this approach is an acceptable one by the majority of members on the Planning and Environment Committee.

We have made clear the government's willingness to cooperate at every point in the conduct of this inquiry. Officers of Planning and Land Management and I have met the committee. We have been available to answer all the questions of the committee, and provided all the supplementary information the committee has required.

The government has provided a range of other information that would not normally be made available in the course of this sort of inquiry. For example, we have made available copies of-or information pertaining to-the regulations that will be made under this legislation, if it is passed. That is not normally done prior to legislation being passed, but the government has been open and up-front in providing all of that information.

There is no justification for members to come back to this Assembly now, after this legislation was tabled in May this year, and say that they need more time. The legislation has been on the table for at least four months, and the committee has had it for close to two months. The crossbench members and the Liberal Party agreed to the reporting date at the time, cognisant of the constraints on time. This is nothing more than an attempt to delay the government's response to the committee's report and therefore delay the Assembly's consideration of this important legislation.

Mr Speaker, I believe this is unacceptable. Members were cognisant of the constraints on time when they agreed to the reporting date. What has changed? The reality is that nothing has changed, and there is no argument to extend the reporting date beyond the end of this week.

MR HUMPHRIES (Leader of the Opposition) (11.29): Mr Speaker, I rise to support the motion moved by the chair of the committee. I do not know what the issues or problems have been on the Planning and Environment Committee which have led to this request for a further week, but, as a rule, this Assembly has been agreeable to accept the recommendations made by committees for such extensions. It is my recollection that, throughout the life of the previous government, there were very often requests made for extensions of this kind.

Mr Wood: When the committee has kept to its side of the bargain.

MR HUMPHRIES: When a committee is appointed and terms of reference are set for an inquiry, it generally sets a reporting date. If you like, there is a bargain when that reporting date is set. I can recall that situation on a number of occasions. I do not have the examples with me, but I am sure I could find them pretty readily. There are plenty of examples in the last Assembly where extensions of time were sought. Bargains were not done on those occasions but the committees, for whatever reason, have sought further time.

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