Page 1185 - Week 04 - Thursday, 17 March 2005

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the house resumed this year, in that Mr Corbell has brought it upon himself to deny leave to all and sundry.

MR SPEAKER: Order! You will have to come to the reason the standing orders ought not to be suspended.

MR SMYTH: This is an important motion. I believe that we have to have courtesy shown to both sides. That is why the standing orders should not be suspended. We have had a change here in that Mr Corbell thinks he can do whatever he wants. What we need to have in this place instead is courtesy shown so that we can all, members on either side of the house, do the business we have to do. We are trying to say to Mr Corbell that it is about time there was some give and take. Earlier in the week he called for courtesy. I am saying that that courtesy goes both ways. I do not believe that the standing orders should be suspended because such courtesy is not being shown to both sides of the house and, indeed, to the member on the crossbench.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (3.47), in reply: There is a myth being perpetuated by the other side of the chamber that, whenever an opposition member feels like having something to say, he or she can get leave to say it. I can assure you that in all the time I have been in this place, which has been since 1997, that has certainly not been the case. Certainly, in my time in opposition—I am sure other members on this side of the house would concur—it was not possible simply to stand up whenever you wanted, seek leave and have a go about whatever you thought was important at the time.

MR SPEAKER: That said, come to the reason for the suspension of standing orders.

MR CORBELL: You used the forms of the house. The reason I have sought to suspend standing orders is that, in contrast with Mr Smyth’s argument, it has been the convention—a convention maintained on all sides of this chamber—that, when ministers present documents, they seek leave to explain those documents. I am quite happy just to table the documents and not explain them, but it has always been the convention in this place, continued by this government, that at the conclusion of question time ministers present papers and, where they believe it is appropriate, seek leave to explain those papers.

If Mr Smyth is saying that he does not want these papers explained, that is fine by me. I am quite happy just to table the documents. The government has sought to suspend standing orders because Mr Smyth has decided that, in some way, this is personal between me and the opposition, which is a very childish tactic. I think that the two issues that Mr Smyth is trying to blend together are, in fact, quite separate. It is not the case that members of the opposition can stand up whenever they like and talk about whatever they like by leave. It is the case that, following question time, ministers table documents and then seek leave to explain those documents. If the opposition is saying that it does not want them explained, the government will have to consider how to handle that.

Mr Stefaniak: We are saying that it is a matter of courtesy. What is good for the goose is good for the gander

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