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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 11 Hansard (22 October) . . Page.. 3909 ..

MR CORNWELL (continuing):

also represented in the Senate are worried about this matter of constitutional change. It is strange that we had a diatribe against constitutional change from Ms Tucker, given that she wants to change everything else.

I would remind Ms Tucker that a consultative group on constitutional change, consisting of a leading constitutional academic, Jack Richardson, and two former federal attorneys-generals, Mr Lavarch from the Labor Party and Mr Brown from the Liberal Party, is conducting a public inquiry concerning "Resolving Deadlocks", which is a discussion paper on section 57 of the Australian Constitution. My colleague Mr Stefaniak has a copy of the document. The group is inviting people to put forward views, and submissions will close on 31 December.

Why should we be asked at a few hours notice-that was when I saw this motion on the notice paper earlier today-to make this decision now when there is a discussion paper out that asks those who wish to put in a submission to do so by 31 December? Why are we being asked by probably this Assembly's leading exponent of the consultative process, namely, Ms Tucker-the consultative process comes up time and again in this Assembly and it is said in relation to the people of the ACT that they are not being consulted enough-to make this decision on the spot with very little notice and also simply to accept what her views might be on this matter?

I find that very surprising, given that only yesterday she was quoted in the Canberra Times, in rejecting the involvement of the Auditor-General in budget talks, as saying that she was not prepared to support the amendment proposed without sufficient information about how the change would work. She said:

We have been told it works well in Victoria, well where's the detail? It's an interesting proposal but we need more information and it should have gone to the Public Accounts Committee...

How come we need more information on the matter that was debated yesterday but, in relation to this possible constitutional change or possible Senate regulation change, we do not need more information?

One could argue that it is not the role of this Assembly to be telling the federal parliament what it should do in relation to constitutional change at that level. That, of course, has never stopped this place in the past. We have spoken about many things national and international-you name it; whatever good, trendy, left-wing issues may arise-that the crossbenchers, particularly the Green guard over there, believe that we should be looking at. I repeat that I find it amazing that the consultative process can be thrown out the window on this issue and yet it is being pushed constantly in this place in relation to anything else. In fact, I would regard it as a cop-out.

What I am suggesting is perfectly simple. If you have views, by all means put them forward to the committee. We may very well find that there are a considerable number of differing views in this place towards this matter. The Chief Minister, I thought, was feeling a little uncomfortable about supporting his fellow traveller over there from the left. Perhaps he feels that he is obliged to do that, but I believe that it would be easier for him, it would be easier for me and it would even be easier for Ms Tucker if we sent in our individual views and allowed this independent committee to take them aboard.

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