Page 1208 - Week 04 - Thursday, 17 March 2005

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through work in a timely fashion, then why not extend that courtesy to the crossbencher and the opposition as well.

Clearly the government has got the numbers to make this occur. I think it is a damning indictment of this government’s commitment to the Assembly and its processes that, on the very first occasion that we use a Friday morning sitting, they cancel it; they just want to go home. They have got no work to do. I notice there are a number of bills there and if there are not bills that they wish to bring forward there are a number of ministerial statements and portfolio statements that could be brought on from the government’s point of view.

There is work there if they want to work. This government just does not want to work. That is the problem. It is about time they took Friday morning off. They have all got free diaries, because they have locked tomorrow away for a sitting day. And this is just an early mark for a government in the lead-up to Easter.

I oppose this change to the sitting pattern. We do not sit that many days in a year. We were told that this half-day would be necessary. If the government cannot fit it in with their business, I think the courteous thing to do would be at least to offer the crossbencher and the opposition an opportunity to do some of their business. With that in mind, we oppose the motion. We are quite happy to do the work, even if the government is not.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (5.11), in reply: These are more puerile tactics from the Leader of the Opposition. Let me just make it quite clear. As I indicated in the speech, although Mr Smyth did not acknowledge it, the government is ramping up this legislative program. There has been a significant amount of legislation introduced into the Assembly this week. There is further legislation to be introduced into the Assembly in future sitting weeks.

The government is developing a comprehensive legislative program but, as all members would be aware, at the beginning of any Assembly there is a period of time in which legislation is ramped up and introduced. As the years build up in the term of an Assembly, the business of the Assembly builds up as well. There is nothing unusual about that. There is nothing unique about that or about the term of this particular government, to this side of the house. It is always the case, Mr Speaker. And Mr Smyth is chattering away there in the background, like a little parrot. He cannot help himself. He just cannot help but have his little murmur and his little talk from time to time.

The issue here is that the government is getting through its business in a timely way. We are doing a good range of business in this place on every sitting day. We are getting through the debates. I believe we are having more focused debates and more timely debates because members have to focus their arguments to work within the time limits as set down in the standing orders.

I know it is a pretty radical concept that you have got to stick to the standing orders. I know that is a pretty unusual request on the part of the government. But you go to any other parliament in the country and that is what you will see. You work within the standing orders.

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