Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (23 September) . . Page.. 3517 ..
Mrs Dunne: But within the standing orders? Is he allowed to break the standing orders?
MR SPEAKER: No, he is not allowed to break the standing orders, but it would seem to me that he is allowed to go to the issue which gave rise to the censure motion, for heaven's sake.
Mr Stanhope: You do not want him to talk about the issue.
MR SPEAKER: Order! Members, remain silent while the minister speaks to the matter?
MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, there were no ifs and no buts in this resolution. There was no "try to negotiate", there was not even "negotiate and fail", there was "negotiate to ensure a land swap or compensation". That is what the resolution said. It was unenforceable and it was unjustified. Censure me, yes, if I did not uphold the tree protection legislation. Censure me, yes, if I did not uphold the land act, but do not censure me for doing those things, because that is what I did, consistent with the legislation and the requirements passed by this place.
MR CORNWELL (3.19): Thank you, Mr Speaker. Five out of 10, Minister, for attempting to shift the debate from the simple fact that you have ignored a direction of this Assembly. The motion simply said that the "ACT government negotiate with the owners of the site...a land swap or suitable compensation to ensure-
Mr Wood: Ensure? What does that mean?
MR SPEAKER: Order, Mr Wood!
MR CORNWELL: Just a minute!-"ensure the preservation", and I am leaving the rest of it out. The reason I am leaving it out is that it is not a question of trees, it is not a question of upholding the laws of which you speak: it is a question of this Assembly giving a directive. A majority of the Assembly gave you a directive to look either at a land swap or at suitable compensation in this particular area. If the majority of this Assembly and its views are to be ignored by arrogant ministers of this government, what is the point of the rest of us being here?
Mr Speaker, I suggest to you, sir, that we are not here for a talkfest. We are not here to stand up and speak on matters hour after hour without some resolution. It so happens that the majority of this house is generally in the government's favour. That is why it is the government, it is fairly obvious. However, that does not remove the right of all members of this house to have a view on matters that sometimes disagrees with what the government of the day believes to be the case. That was the situation in this matter of Nettlefold Street.
It was not just this opposition, it was the crossbenchers as well who felt sufficiently strongly about it, because they, in turn, had had representations from that great forgotten majority, Mr Speaker, namely the people of Belconnen, and perhaps other areas of the ACT, who felt very strongly about this matter. If we do not listen to these views, I repeat, why are we here? There is no point in the Assembly staying. We might as well all leave and leave the government to do just as it likes.