Page 886 - Week 03 - Thursday, 10 March 2005

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MR SPEAKER: The question now before the Assembly is: that so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent Mrs Dunne from making a statement.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (3.33): Mr Speaker, I seek your clarification. Given that Mrs Dunne has been suspended from the service of the house and the motion is in her name, is it appropriate to continue with this debate?

MR SPEAKER: The question is still before the house.

MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, I want to make it quite clear that the government is happy to allow Mrs Dunne to make whatever explanation she likes during the adjournment debate, under private members’ business, in a personal explanation in accordance with the standing orders, or in a statement regarding misrepresentation of something she said under the standing orders. That is the appropriate avenue for these matters to be addressed.

MR SPEAKER: Mrs Dunne, you should leave the chamber.

Mrs Dunne thereupon withdrew from the chamber.

MR CORBELL: It is on that basis, Mr Speaker, that the government has adopted the approach it has in relation to this matter. We will not be supporting the suspension motion.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella—Leader of the Opposition) (3.34): Mr Speaker, it has been the tradition of this place for the last 15 years that members be given leave to speak on matters that they find important. That has been the tradition. That 15 years of tradition has just been thrown out of this place by a government whose arrogance has led it to condemn the federal government for conducting business which it is entitled to do under the constitution; but, if a member here wants to do business as he or she is entitled as a member of this Assembly, the government will now determine when the member gets to do that.

There are many ways in which we express ourselves. Recently, the Chief Minister sought leave to make a statement. This opposition has always given individuals leave to make statements because we want them to perform their jobs as they would like to do. That is a courtesy that should be extended to the members of the opposition and the crossbench. That is the sort of courtesy a government that is not afraid to hear the truth would extend. That is the sort of courtesy a government that is fully supportive of what a minister has said and knows it to be true would do.

Yet what does this government do? This government puts Mr Corbell in cotton wool so that we cannot actually debate what he said. That is why the motion for the suspension of standing orders should go through. The standing orders should be suspended because there is doubt about what this minister has said. There is a lot of doubt about what this minister says. You have to remember, Mr Speaker, that this minister has form. That is why, on 24 June 2004, the Assembly passed a censure motion concerning Mr Corbell that said, “The Assembly censures the minister for health and planning for persistently

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