Page 115 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 7 December 2004

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of a government that is just sucking inward, inward looking, self-serving and self-seeking for the most part.

No disrespect to the new members here, but I hope that you can make some difference within your party to start your colleagues thinking laterally about why we are here. Do not suppress us in the way that you are planning to. This is nothing more than suppression. It is an appalling move by this majority, arrogant government to shut down debate in this place. I will not be agreeing with this motion.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (5.38): in reply: Mr Speaker, the way the opposition carries on, anyone would think that there had been a coup d’etat in the ACT, solders coming into the Assembly and forcing people to go quietly, and all that sort of thing. This is the most extraordinary overreaction I have seen.

There are a few things that I would like to clarify. The first is that the opposition argues that this means that there will be an adjournment at 6.00 pm; there must be an adjournment at 6.00 pm. Mrs Dunne said it provides an inflexible framework because we are going to have to seek leave to suspend standing orders every time we know we want to sit beyond 6.00 pm. Well, that is simply not the case. You only have to read the motion to understand that, Mr Speaker. I doubt that Mrs Dunne did, based on the comments she made earlier in the debate, because what it says is that it requires the Speaker at 6.00 pm to put the question that the Assembly now adjourn. Of course that question can be negatived.

The government has indicated its broad intention to seek the adjournment at 6.00 pm because we think that is appropriate and we think that is a reasonable hour to conclude sittings for the day. But it does not in any absolute term rule out sitting beyond 6.00 pm. You just have to read the standing orders to see that: “If the question … is negatived, the Assembly shall resume the proceedings at the point at which they had been interrupted.” That is what it says. The Assembly shall resume proceedings at the point at which they had been interrupted. It is as simple as that.

It might be worth also pointing out to members that the dynamic of debate in this place will change, and just at a very basic level it will change because there will no longer be three crossbench members each wanting to speak on every single item. There will be invariably a minister in charge of legislation. There will be an opposition spokesperson, at the minimum, responding to the legislation and there will be one crossbench member responding to the legislation. It is a different dynamic.

That does not preclude other members from the government or opposition parties making their point in the debate. The government expects members to respond and join in debate in a responsible way and to make their contribution. But it is, nevertheless, a different dynamic. You do not have in every single debate three crossbench members responding on every single issue; you have one. Then you have whatever the make-up is from the government and opposition parties. It is a different dynamic, and that needs to be taken into account.

Of course, related to this issue is the notion of sitting on Fridays. Of course, sitting on Fridays permits an additional three hours every second sitting Friday for executive

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