Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 4 March 2008) . . Page.. 428 ..
standing orders should be suspended. It should be unnecessary to have to move to suspend standing orders because, if the courtesies of this place were forthcoming, we would not have to waste our time in a 15-minute debate; it would be all over, done and dusted.
MR BARR (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Planning, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation, Minister for Industrial Relations) (3.56): Tuesday being a day for executive business, it is important that we get on with the business of the Assembly. Mrs Dunne wants to make a statement. She has ample opportunity during the entire day that is provided for private members business tomorrow to make such a statement. I invite her to do so tomorrow. But the government will not be supporting a suspension of standing orders.
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (3.56): I am rising to support the motion to suspend standing orders. Given that we have at the federal level now a move to revamp freedom of information legislation and to abolish conclusive certificates, and given that most state governments have either removed the power of attorneys-general to issue conclusive certificates or have promised to do so, it would seem to me that the very least we can do, given that the minister’s decision to use his increased discretion to issue conclusive certificates, which is, of course, the drawing of a curtain over an area that the community is desperate to know what goes on, is to subject this issue to the exposure of debate and allow some oxygen in on the matter.
I am afraid that at the moment it really is not a very good look for our government, and I would be very, very interested to see how it maintains its stance in light of the federal moves to open up government. Decisions were made; we have not ever been allowed to get near the truth. I do commend Mrs Dunne for making that very huge effort, for which I must say she has been subjected to nothing but humiliation and criticism, on behalf of school communities and others in this community. I really think it is very condescending of the minister to say that an issue this important should be relegated to private members business day.
MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (3.58): Once again we see here the government just clamping down. They harp on that this is their day. This is a day for all Canberrans to know that this government chooses to shut the doors on freedom of information, something that is so important to the community, something that would have taken Mrs Dunne all of five minutes, possibly, to make her case. We have to go through this ridiculous process every time we want to hear some openness and accountability. Of course, sadly for the government, they will do this to their detriment, and they will continue to do it to their detriment.
I fully support Mrs Dunne’s motion this afternoon. I support her courage, and I also support the comments from Dr Foskey that these are issues of community interest and, as such, the information should be made available.
Mr Barr: Let us have a substantive motion.
MRS BURKE: The education minister continues to talk over the top of people. Clearly he is very embarrassed by this. We have only just, about five minutes ago,