Page 4909 - Week 15 - Thursday, 15 December 2005

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Mr Quinlan: I missed the reason.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (12.11), in reply: As my colleague Mr Quinlan points out, I think quite pertinently, the opposition have not really explained why they want to move these dates; they have just said it is not fair that the government has not agreed to their amendment. But what is the reason for the date change? Is there a practical reason? Is there an issue around the availability of opposition members, et cetera? None of those reasons—in fact, no reason—has been given for this.

In relation to some of the other points Mrs Burke has made: on the issue of availability, obviously in a small Assembly, with a limited number of ministers, if you have more than one or two ministers away at any one time it really creates serious problems for the workability of this place, and that is in marked contrast to the federal parliament, where there is a large number of ministers, both senior cabinet ministers and junior ministers, available to sustain the business of the house if one or two ministers happen to be away. As we know, a prolonged period of absence by any minister in this place makes question time and a whole range of other activities much more unworkable, and I would have thought that would have been obvious to all.

Finally, Mrs Burke says we are not doing enough work. Mrs Burke has not exactly proposed to increase the number of sitting periods. I would have thought, if that was her complaint, she would have taken the opportunity in moving her amendment to increase the sitting periods. So we have no reasons as to why these dates should be moved, no reasons at all, we have no recognition of the need to ensure the workability of a small Assembly with a small number of members, and we have no recognition of the fact that, if their concerns about the period of sitting dates were legitimate, they would suggest doing something about it.

The sitting calendar is comparable to that of previous sitting years. The most notable change is the decision not to proceed with Friday sittings and also, obviously, the proposed change to the budget period. But this is a comparable sitting pattern to previous years and again I commend the sitting calendar to the house.

Amendment negatived.

Motion agreed to.

Revenue Legislation Amendment Bill 2005 (No 2)

Debate resumed from 17 November 2005, on motion by Mr Quinlan:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (12.14): This bill introduces nine amendments, seven of which the opposition is pleased to be able to support. I will deal briefly with the seven improvements and come back to the two that we do not support. We acknowledge the need to align the definition of general insurer in the ACT Duties Act with the definition in the commonwealth’s Insurance Act, the salient point being to require general insurers

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