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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 12 Hansard (14 November) . . Page.. 3680 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

As Mr Pratt meandered through his explanation, I think he conceded that this legislation does not change whether a levy can be charged. If we particularly wanted to get our hands into the pockets of business tomorrow, we could, as we could have if nothing had come into this Assembly in this session, because provision to do so is there.

The insurance industry has become more flexible in the way they collect premiums from their clients, and they have asked that legislation reflect the new flexibility. They have asked all states. All states, pretty well, have adopted a more flexible approach. Flexibility is a bit of a problem over there. Somehow Mr Pratt came up with a conspiracy theory. I think we have to look at your training, Mr Pratt. Mr Pratt has come up with not only a conspiracy theory that we are going to hit business with a 10 per cent surcharge tomorrow but a theory that if he heroically defends business against this bill we will not be able to apply the levy.

He is wrong in both cases. If we want to apply a levy, Mr Pratt, we first of all have to demonstrate that it is necessary, but then it can be applied. It can be applied under a system that has been in place for some time. This is not a system that has been brought into this Assembly by this government. It is a pre-existing process.

What was simply a bit of mechanical administrative legislation somehow turned into a massive conspiracy to hit business when they can least afford it. Mr Pratt, I suggest that in future, if you embarrass yourself as you did yesterday, you cop it on the chin and do not compound the situation by coming in here and going off for 15 minutes about imagined motives. Even if those motives did exist, this legislation getting through or not getting through would make no difference to whether those motives could be put into action.

Mr Pratt: It is an impost on business and you know it-and unnecessary.

MR QUINLAN: If you want to be totally deaf to logic, for God's sake would you at least read the bill? For just once prepare yourself. For God's sake would you just read the presentation statement, which says in English what the bill is doing.

Mr Pratt: A 10 per cent surcharge is an unnecessary impost on business. Why did you rush it through without consulting with business?

MR QUINLAN: Rush it through? It is a bit of administrative legislation, you fool.

Mr Stefaniak: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is quite insulting and unparliamentary to call someone a fool. I would ask Mr Quinlan to withdraw.

MR QUINLAN: I withdraw that. However, the actions of Mr Pratt over the last two days, I would suggest, have been very ill advised. Let me say, if this is not unparliamentary, that you look very foolish at the moment, Mr Pratt.

I commend the bill to the house.

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