Page 135 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 9 December 2008

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Mr Seselja: I raise a point of order. Mr Speaker, Mr Corbell is going through in detail what is in the bill. That is not what this motion is about. This is about the suspension of standing orders that would allow Mr Smyth to bring on the debate that was started prior to lunch so that we could continue and finalise it.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, the point of order is upheld. Mr Corbell, would you like to speak to the specific issue?

MR CORBELL: Well, Mr Speaker, it is entirely relevant because—

Mr Seselja: He just told you it wasn’t.

MR CORBELL: the opposition—

MR SPEAKER: Mr Corbell, I did uphold the point of order.

MR CORBELL: Thank you, Mr Speaker. The opposition, of course, are seeking to explain why they believe this suspension of standing orders should take place. But, Mr Speaker, in the government’s view there is no justification for bringing this motion on at this time. The reason for that relates to the matters that I have outlined in my earlier comments, namely, these are matters that the government has said need to occur and need to be funded. To bring on a motion that will allow Mr Smyth to propose a referral to the public accounts committee is unnecessary.

The motion is unnecessary. The commitments are clear ones given by the government and ones that we believe deserve to be honoured promptly. Of course, the proposal by the Liberal Party would mean that the Assembly would have to sit again on 19 December to pass an appropriation bill. We do not support that course of action. We were quite clear about the need to make this appropriation in the first full sitting week of the Assembly and we are honouring that commitment. (Time expired.)

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (6.16): Mr Speaker, it is important that we suspend the standing orders and go back to the substantive debate. We have spent a lot of time today talking about the new norm in this Assembly, and the new norm is about openness and accountability. It is about a discussion of the issues.

This is what Mr Smyth is doing. He is seeking to suspend standing orders to go back to the substantive debate. The substantive debate has been foreshadowed to members of the Assembly since last Wednesday when we became aware that there was certainly to be an appropriation bill passed. The minister is saying why the government does not want to go down this path of having a referral.

What we are deciding here at the moment is whether or not we should go back to the debate. The debate was only partially heard. Members of this place need to put on the record what their view is on whether or not there should be a reference to an estimates committee—in this case in the form of the public accounts committee.

We need to see on the record if the Treasurer wants this referred. We need to see on the record what is the view of the opposition and the cross benches in relation to this.

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