Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 4351 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
be granted for a period of three years-not up to three years, not greater than three years, not less than three years but three years. That is why exemptions continue to be granted. So I say to the more paranoid amongst us that there is no conspiracy.
Mr Speaker, the proposal to go to an end date of 1 December 2006 is based on that exemptions issue and it is also in response to the proposal as agreed by Mrs Cross, the Liberals, the Greens and the Democrats to a phase-out at the end of 2008. There is no way Mrs Cross can escape it: that is what she was proposing as late as about two hours ago.
It is, of course, a proposal which was characterised by Smoke Free Australia as a shameful sell-out-in fact, an "outrageous sell-out"were their words; a move by non-government MPs in the Assembly to delay smoke-free workplaces until 2008. They said that they were shocked at this development and they outlined that it would be a disaster for public health in the ACT. What does that say for the appropriateness or the effectiveness of Mrs Cross's so-called consultations? What does it say for her judgment as to the appropriateness of a timeframe to get that sort of endorsement from organisations including the AMA, the Cancer Council of Australia, Action on Smoking and Health, the ACTU and the unions that represent workers in the hospitality industry?
Mr Speaker, that is why the government indicated, and still continues to indicate, that this could have been handled much better. It could have been handled through a process which allowed due consideration through an independent regulatory impact statement and then members making their judgment based on those informed pieces of research. However, Mrs Cross has chosen to go for gold, and that is understandable when she is going to be struggling for re-election in Molonglo and she needs all the headlines she can get. But that does not necessarily make for good law making.
That said, the most appropriate timeframe, if members of this Assembly are interested in expediting the removal of the exemptions regime, is to do it as soon as possible, and to do it as soon as possible means doing it on 1 December 2006. I commend the amendment to members.
MS DUNDAS (5.07): The Democrats will be supporting the amendment put forward by Mr Corbell. I would like to clarify a few issues that Mr Corbell raised in his speech. The Democrats are keen to see this legislation passed; we are keen to see an end to smoking in enclosed public spaces. The Democrats' policy position-and this is quite clear-calls for this to happen as soon as is practicable at a common end date.
Without the government's support for this legislation, which as late as yesterday evening was not forthcoming, the only way that this legislation was going to be passed was with the support of the opposition, and the only way to my understanding that the opposition was going to support this piece of legislation was with an end date of 2008.
Because the government was unwilling to come to the table on this piece of legislation and because the Democrats and, I understand-and I do not want to misrepresent my colleagues-the crossbench were keen to see this legislation passed, we had to negotiate with the opposition to find an end date that was suitable. Obviously 2008 is not necessarily as soon as is practicable, but in a political context yesterday it was as soon as is practicable.