Page 429 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 4 March 2008
received what he said Mrs Dunne had received and he is embarrassed again to find that Mrs Dunne has only received that information very late in the piece. Whether that is the minister’s fault or not, I do not know, and I am sure he is a bit embarrassed about that too. We want to have openness and accountability. Dr Foskey has alluded to the freedom of information issues at a federal level. We as legislators and we as politicians do the community no favours by playing these petty political games that this government, the Stanhope government, persists in continuing with. I ask members to support this, and I ask the government to think again and have the humility to say, “All right, Mrs Dunne, make your case this afternoon,” and not have to wait until tomorrow.
MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (4.00): I do believe that it is reasonable that this statement be debated and the opportunity given to the member. Matters of transparency and accountability are very important to our community. I was familiar with the very early days of the development of the freedom of information campaign by Professor John McMillan, who is now the commonwealth and territory ombudsman. I would like to hear the arguments on this particular matter.
I know Mrs Dunne has put in many, many hours on this issue of seeking information. I know the minister has been critical but—dare I suggest that the minister might be going down the road of saying he does not want to throw good money after bad—I think there is an opportunity for him to hear out the member, hear the points of view that have been raised—
Mr Barr: Let everyone consider my statement of reasons and we will debate it tomorrow.
MR MULCAHY: I think there is an opportunity now, and I am hoping we do not have a protracted debate. To be brief, I think it is reasonable that we do hear the statement, and I would support the suspension of standing orders so that an opportunity can be afforded to the member.
MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (4.01): The government has no objection with opposition members choosing to comment on these matters. The issue is about when that should occur. As Mr Barr has indicated, the issue is that the government has two of the three sitting days allocated for executive business. Once you take away the time allocated for MPIs during that time and once you take away the day of Wednesday for current members business, there is actually only a very small period of time available for executive business in this place, compared to other parliaments.
The government believes that it is entirely reasonable for members to comment on these matters, but they can do so by way of substantive motion. The opportunity for a substantive motion is during private members business tomorrow.
The government has nothing to hide in relation to this matter; the government has abided by the provisions of the act and has had regard to the decisions of the AAT and all the other matters that are outlined in Mr Barr’s and Mr Stanhope’s statements. Any attempts to suggest the government is seeking to defer or not engage in this debate are