Page 1489 - Week 05 - Thursday, 7 April 2005

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comes from it. Numbers are obviously going to be very important, as they are, but for the government to attempt to shut down the debate is quite appalling. In shutting down debate it is shutting down proper scrutiny of its activities and the activities of its members.

That is something that, quite frankly, I think the community would be appalled at. The community wants to see openness. It does not want to see this place operating behind closed doors. It has a right and a duty to expect that what goes on here will be open to scrutiny. It has a right and an expectation that we will abide by rules.

Mrs Dunne has made some serious allegations that should be aired, allegations that possibly even involve breaches of various acts, such as the Crimes Act. The allegations are serious and need to be looked at carefully. It is up to everyone here to judge the substance or otherwise, but they are serious matters that need to be aired and matters indeed involving the minister who wants to shut down debate. He has a bit of a conflict there perhaps in even talking on this matter. It is important for us to vote for Mrs Dunne’s motion. Mr Speaker has made a decision and she disagrees with it. She wants us to debate it. I would expect the community would want to hear exactly—

MR SPEAKER: Mr Stefaniak, you cannot impute that somebody has a conflict of interest in this place without a motion being decided by the Assembly. You ought to withdraw that.

MR STEFANIAK: Thank you, Mr Speaker; I will do that. I think this is important; it is a serious matter. Mrs Dunne has written a letter alleging some very serious issues. She has referred to House of Representatives Practice in relation to these issues. When one reads those pages of House of Representatives Practice, one sees that they are very serious matters indeed.

People do not have a huge regard for politicians. One of the reasons is that they do not trust us. All parties go to elections saying, “Yes we will be open, we will be accountable”—and it is questionable what happens after that when they get into government. One of the reasons is that people want open and accountable government. It is amazing that this government, which went to the electorate with that promise and which quite proudly trumpets in this place at every opportunity it has had so far why it got elected, attempts to shut down debate on important matters. Mrs Dunne has raised a very important matter, and it should be heard.

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs) (10.48): I do not wish to speak for too long to this motion because it is a singular waste of time—Mr Corbell has made the case well.

The point needs to be made in relation to the nonsense being spouted about refusing to be open and accountable about how this Assembly operates that one-third of the sitting time of this Assembly, after the business of the Assembly, is devoted to private members’ business. I do not know, but I would imagine that that is the greatest proportion of time devoted by any parliament in Australia to private members.

MR SPEAKER: The time for this debate has expired.

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