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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 4342 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

From the Greens' perspective, we are interested in seeing an outcome, we are interested in seeing something decided now that will give certainty to everyone in the community in terms of what is happening. There is room for the government to bring the issue back to the Assembly if necessary. The consultations and the regulatory impact statement that the government is undertaking can still inform the process because we are not talking about doing something tomorrow-we are talking about doing something in three years. So I do not understand why the minister is saying that this information cannot be useful or used to inform the process.

MR CORBELL (Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (4.36): Mr Speaker, I seek leave to speak again in order to clarify and correct Ms Tucker's understanding of the situation.

Leave granted.

MR CORBELL: The point I was making is this: if this bill was not debated today, it would mean that the regulatory impact statement could be completed, we would understand the full range of social and economic impacts arising from any decision to remove the exemption regime, and then the Assembly could decide on the most appropriate timing. That is why I sought the adjournment.

But because we have not chosen to adjourn the debate today, we need to make a decision on the date. The government has indicated its preferred approach if the bill is to be debated today. But it would be very difficult, having set the date, to then go back and change it next year again, and that is not what we are going to do. We are not going to change the date if this bill is passed today. If this bill is passed today, that is the date and it is not going to change.

The point I was making is that we had an opportunity if we adjourned this debate for the regulatory impact statement to be completed and then to fully understand whether it was possible to remove the exemptions earlier. That is the point of that investigation.

Mrs Cross: Does it take three years to understand it?

MR CORBELL: It is called good public policy, Mrs Cross. It is called process, it is called assessing the issues in a comprehensive way.

Mr Speaker, that is the point I am seeking to make. If the Assembly decides on a date today, the government has no interest in changing it. We accept the need for certainty. We are not going to try and undermine that in any way. I was simply making the point that with an RIS underway and this bill still under consideration and not resolved today, the Assembly would be in a position to reach an informed outcome.

MS DUNDAS (4.38): Mr Speaker, the ACT Democrats are supportive of the bill before us today. The bill is about addressing passive smoking in the ACT and it recognises the fact that Canberrans have a right to conduct their social, business and work activities without being subject to the second-hand smoke of other people.

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