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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (26 June) . . Page.. 2627 ..



have now had two amendments moved by this minister, one withdrawn and another now before us, trying to curtail our power, our capacity, not to read but, once having read, to act upon.

Mr Speaker, the proposal that has been put before us today means that we are actually having our capacity curtailed to read that document in the first instance because, effectively, we have to wait five days. It could be said, Mr Speaker, that this amendment is out of kilter with what has already been moved and amended here because the current motion says that this minister should provide this document by close of business today. After providing that document by close of business today, he is finding a mechanism to stop the members of this place seeing it for almost five days.

This is a filibuster. This is a means of stopping the members here from obtaining access to a document which, all the conventions, all the practices and all the things that have gone before us in the House of Representatives, in the Senate, in the House of Commons and in other parliaments, would point to the fact that we are entitled to ask for and receive.

In 1975 the then Prime Minister, officials of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and officials and ministers of the departments of energy, the treasury and the attorney-general were called before the bar of the Senate to provide documents to the Senate in relation to foreign loans and the Senate eventually determined that no amount of filibustering and no amount of advice from learned judges or learned lawyers would override the power of the Senate and the right of the Senate to obtain such documents.

This is not a document of that order. This is not the sort of document on which a government might rise or fall. This is a simple piece of legal advice that a small agency associated with the Department of Urban Services has used and it needs to be explored. It is about a matter on the public record of concern to many people in this community. I have received today a number of phone calls from people both within the industry and just casual observers who are saying to me, "Mrs Dunne, there is something wrong in this and you need to get to the bottom of it. This minister wants to stop members of this place getting to the bottom of a very important issue that goes to the capacity of this government and this territory to deal in land.

I think that, as we opposed the previous amendment, we have to oppose this amendment, not on the principle, but on its current application. I would be quite happy to have a system like this for dealing with documents in the future referred to the Administration and Procedure Committee for consideration. I think that that is important. But what we are seeing here is this minister using this mechanism to filibuster and to get in the way of this Assembly getting to the bottom of the story.


(8.13): I have listened with interest to the comments made by various speakers on this subject and I must say that they have amused me slightly as I remember that Mr Smyth had to have a censure motion put on him to get him to provide information for us on CTEC. I still remember the debate. It probably would be better in some ways for the Liberals if I did not remember everything they did when they were in government.

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