Page 135 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 8 December 2004

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down anyone who says anything against their agenda or against any of their members. The Chief Minister might run spurious points of order but he does not have the guts to stand up and defend his attempt to close down Mr Stefaniak’s speech, because what he is doing is indefensible.

What this house proposes to do now is to set a new course for itself, as it did yesterday in a number of its debates. It is setting a new course for itself away from the consultative democracy that we have had in this Assembly over the past 15 years and is moving towards: “We are from the Labor Party, we know what is good for you and we will impose it upon you—the Assembly, and you—the community.”

The closing down of this debate is another opportunity for the Attorney-General and Chief Minister not to be criticised—to blunt the criticism, to stifle the criticism, to gag the criticism—because it is not convenient. It goes against his image of himself as a man of integrity—and what this man of integrity is proposing to do with his colleagues today is to stifle debate, to close down a legitimate area of inquiry, a legitimate area of debate in this place, because it is inconvenient. It is inconvenient for the Attorney-General to have his actions held up to scrutiny. It is inconvenient for the Attorney-General to be questioned. This man hates to be gainsaid, and he is using the opportunities of the forms of the house to close down debate on anyone who dares to question him, his views or his integrity.

This is what this is all about today. This man with the glass jaw wants to close down debate. This Assembly must oppose this attempt at gagging. I say to those opposite: one day you will need to suffer this, and one day you will find out that what goes around might come around. You can sit there feeling smug, thinking that for four years you can do what you like. But in four years the people of the ACT might have grown very tired of every debate being closed down by a Chief Minister with a glass jaw who cannot bear to be gainsaid on any occasion.

MR QUINLAN (Molonglo—Treasurer and Minister for Economic Development) (11.07): I just want to say a couple of words, Mr Speaker. It is the intention of this government to normalise and to make practice in this place consistent with practice elsewhere. And I have to say that it is not within my concept of democracy that Mrs Dunne has to have the last say on everything that is discussed in this house! What we had in the last Assembly, the Fifth Assembly, was a total abuse of time limits, a total abuse of the need to be economical. We had: “I seek permission to speak again because I now want to argue and debate another point, and then another point—something I didn’t think of.” We have a conga line of untidy minds across there and the only way to turn this place into a decent Assembly is to apply some discipline, which is overdue. It may be that at a future time there could be some relaxation, but we have already had one question time with a parade of spurious, argumentative points of order. It looks like we have an opposition that intend to walk the same path as they struggled down during the last three years, so there is a need for that discipline, and it shall apply.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (11.08): I wish to speak quite briefly to this, without foreshadowing the way that I am going to vote on the motion. With such a substantive matter before us, and given that some of Mr Stefaniak’s time was taken up with judgments by the Speaker about whether or not some of the substance was sub judice, I would support standing orders being dropped this time. I suspect there is not a great deal

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