Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (18 June) . . Page.. 2032 ..
If we allow these precedents to be established, then we will have fundamentally changed the way democracy operates in this territory. We will also have fundamentally changed the way democracy operates in this country, because the precedent will be used in other jurisdictions. Future editions of House of Representatives Practice will talk about this precedent and other jurisdictions will use it. Mr Speaker, that precedent has to be knocked off, it must not be established, because if it is not, what we do here will be diminished.
The opposition will be supporting Mr Wood's motion. I hope that members will put the politics aside and look at the issue of precedence. If we accept that the behaviour of ministers Wood and Corbell in the Estimates Committee is acceptable, that will become established practice. If we set the precedent, the way in which we conduct our business will be diminished for all time. I move:
Insert the following new paragraph:
"(1A) the Select Committee also examine:
(a) the refusal of Mr Wood to answer questions of the Select Committee on Estimates;
(b) the refusal of Mr Corbell to answer questions of the Select Committee on Estimates;
(c) the creation and distribution of the document known as 'Budget Estimates 2003' by certain persons within ACT Health
and determine whether each constitutes a contempt of the Legislative Assembly.".
MS TUCKER(3.59): I wish to speak to the motion and the amendment. I am prepared to support the motion to set up a privileges committee to look at the question of committee work being released publicly before the conclusion of the process. I have listened to what Mr Smyth said in respect of his amendment, and I have to say that it is a very serious thing to set up a privileges committee and to accuse people of contempt of the parliament. I will need time to consider this question.
Mr Smyth talked about precedent. It would be a very bad precedent if in some way we were forced to vote on this matter today. I was not part of the Estimates Committee. I want the opportunity not only to look at the transcript of estimates but also to look at and seek advice on House of Representatives Practice so that I can get a sense of whether I think Mr Smyth's amendment warrants being looked at by the Privileges Committee.
There is potential for this matter to be debated tomorrow but I would prefer that it be brought on next week. Like everyone here, I will probably be working into the wee hours of the morning, and it is going to take a bit of time to go through what exactly has been said and what the issues are. So, as I said, I am happy to support the motion but I would seek to adjourn consideration of the amendment until preferably next week.
MR SPEAKER: Ms Tucker, because you have spoken on the matter, it is not open to you to adjourn it.
Debate (on motion by Ms Dundas ) adjourned to the next sitting.