Page 3775 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 18 October 2005

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importance be submitted to the Assembly. In accordance with standing order 79, I have determined that the matter proposed by Mr Gentleman be submitted to the Assembly, namely:

The impact of the federal government’s WorkChoices policy announcements on the Canberra community.

Mrs Burke: I wish to raise a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I seek your advice and guidance on this matter, sir. I would draw your attention to the subject matter of today’s MPI and the current Select Committee on Working Families’ terms of reference, which I will talk about in a moment. In my opinion these are alarmingly similar. Although House of Representatives Practice at page 579 states that an MPI encompassing a subject under consideration by a committee is permitted to be discussed, the correlation between the two matters before us today is much closer.

Accordingly, sir, I ask you to rule the MPI out of order on the grounds that the subject matter of the MPI is exactly the same as the select committee’s terms of reference, which state that the Select Committee on Working Families in the Australian Capital Territory is:

… appointed to examine the effect on working families in relation to health costs, effects of industrial relations changes, adjustments by the Commonwealth Grants Commission and the allocation of funds by the Commonwealth, impacts on current or potential ACT legislation by the Commonwealth and any other related matter.

I believe that this is the second consecutive sitting period where the chair of this committee, whose inquiry focus is around working families, has taken the liberty—and, may I say, in my opinion, somewhat abused his position—of bringing these matters before the Assembly. One would sincerely have to question—

Mr Corbell: On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker: Mrs Burke is entitled to raise a point of order but not to give a speech. Her point of order, as I understand it, is that the matter is subject to an Assembly inquiry. On the point of order: the reality is that this is an MPI; it is a matter for discussion; there is no question before the chair and therefore it cannot in any way affect the outcome on the Assembly inquiry.

Further, simply because a matter is referred to an Assembly inquiry does not mean that matters of public interest and debate cannot be raised in this place. The MPI is entirely in order, and Mrs Burke has no point of order, in the government’s view.

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: On the first point of order: Mrs Burke, you are going into the area of debating the issue. Do you have anything else you want to say to clarify simply why you believe this MPI cannot proceed?

Mrs Burke: Yes.

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Can you move straight to that point, please.

Mrs Burke: Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek your ruling that this MPI directly refers to matters that are currently before the select committee and should and must be dealt with

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