Page 238 - Week 01 - Thursday, 9 December 2004

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Mr Speaker, this matter in relation to rural leases in the Molonglo Valley is an important item. It was listed yesterday for proceedings and, as you would have noted, the Liberal opposition was not necessarily prepared to go home at 6.00 o’clock yesterday and would have been prepared to deal with it yesterday.

We have a hiatus in proceedings now because the government has no business to conduct and we are scheduled to sit for nearly three-quarters of an hour longer. I seek the indulgence of the Assembly to bring forward this important matter relating to the security of a number of my constituents.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo-Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (11.48): Mr Speaker, the government will not be supporting the suspension motion today. The reason for that is not that we disagree that we could take the opportunity to discuss the matter at this point; it is that Mrs Dunne will need to try to give greater warning to the government if the opposition wants to bring on business in this way, rather than just dropping it on us at the last moment. The government is not in a position to respond to the debate at this point because adequate warning has not been given, so it will not be supporting the suspension motion.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (11.49): Firstly, on Mr Corbell’s point, I cannot see why this government would be any different from previous governments in that, when notification was given on a Tuesday afternoon of what the private members’ business would be on the next day, the relevant ministers of previous governments and their officials would get the speeches ready and do the work so that the ministers would be hot to trot on the Wednesday.

I understand that Mrs Dunne would have 15 minutes to speak to her motion. It is a detailed motion and I am sure that she would use up that time. I would hope that Mr Corbell would have been ready for yesterday. Surely, it would not be too much to ask of him, as the relevant minister, to have his speech brought in from his office or whatever. I would hope that all the work would have been done in preparation for a debate yesterday.

I do not know whether Mr Corbell’s excuse really washes. The situation is not one of something being sprung on the government and the government having had absolutely no opportunity to do the work, to get in there and ensure that it has notes ready to respond to whatever the private member is bringing up and saying in the house. That should have been done yesterday. In fact, to paraphrase, Ms MacDonald, that would be a relevant discipline. Certainly, an efficient government would do that.

I would hope that this government would come into the chamber of a Wednesday prepared for private members’ business. I image that it would do so, as have previous governments. I have already started hearing jokes about the Assembly being 9 to 5 as a result of the 6 o’clock rule that is now being imposed and about us looking a bit silly out in the community as a result thereof; but, given that we have adopted that rule, that that is a rule of the Assembly, I think it behoves us to utilise all the time available. If this motion got up, we would have probably an extra half an hour or so that we could utilise very productively to discuss important matters before the Assembly.

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