Page 240 - Week 01 - Thursday, 9 December 2004

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MR SMYTH (Brindabella-Leader of the Opposition) (11.54): Mr Corbell said on radio this morning that the government is going to use its time wisely and that, if we worked hard between 10.30 am and 6.30 pm, we could get through the business. When this debate started we had almost 45 minutes of time that the government was not able to use because of its lack of discipline.

I congratulate our whip for being organised, disciplined and ready take up this available time and help the government out. It all comes down to whether Mr Corbell was simply expressing platitudes this morning or whether he is actually keen as Manager of Government Business to use up all the available time sensibly so that we get out of this place on time. Obviously he is not.

Mr Corbell has an opportunity here to do so. The opposition whip is organised. We are here to help out the government. Perhaps the government whip needs to become a little more disciplined. It is her job to make sure that everything rolls along properly here. Our whip is doing the job properly. The government needs to learn a little bit more. The point is that we have an opportunity to discuss an issue that is important to at least three constituents and their families. We are now down to having 35 minutes to do so. The government is resisting this move and has said that it will not back it.

A question was raised by Minister Corbell as to why Mrs Dunne’s motion should come forward first. It should because she is organised and she is ready to roll. We have been disciplined and we have done the work. The government needs to lift its game in this regard. It is always open to the minister to move an amendment to the motion and bring on a different piece of private members’ business should he so wish.

We have seen yet again the government gagging debate in this place, particularly that of the opposition and the crossbench, on issues that have the potential to embarrass the government—in this case, to embarrass the minister responsible, who is well across these issues and is often well able to speak on many subjects. He does not want to debate this one today simply because it is of embarrassment to this government.

We need to be debating this issue to give these people who have been left out to dry by this government for almost two years some relief from the uncertainty of the position that they have been put in by this government. It would be a nice way to finish the year if the Assembly actually did something constructive for a couple of constituents.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (11.56):, I hope that I am the last speaker to this question that the motion be put. I do support the motion. I also support—

MR SPEAKER: The question before the house is that the standing orders be suspended.

DR FOSKEY: I hope that I am the last speaker on that topic. I support the proposal that we discuss this business first, though it was kind of Mr Corbell to suggest that perhaps there should be a ballot and my business should be given the chance to be pulled out of the hat. The reason I support the proposal that Mrs Dunne’s motion be discussed first is that it is very current and deserves attention. I do remember that there was an amendment circulated yesterday in Mr Corbell’s name. I suspect that that indicates that he also is ready.

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