Page 136 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 9 December 2008

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It needs to be put on the record so the people of the ACT know when we appropriate in excess of $30 million whether or not members were prepared to discuss this matter and have it reviewed in a way that has been styled in this place today as the way we should go forward.

In this place today we have said on a number of occasions that we need to have more accountability and that the committee system needs to work for the Assembly and for the people of the ACT. We have also said that bills should not be introduced and passed in the one period unless there is some urgency. Mr Smyth and I have given commitments to the government. This motion, which seeks for us to go back to the original motion, clearly gives a commitment that if the government thinks this is so urgent we commit to passing the bill before Christmas.

But what we get now is again the nine-to-five approach of Labor: we cannot possibly discuss anything within 10 days of Christmas because our brains go to sleep. Ambulance drivers do not tick off on 19 December because Christmas is coming up. Doctors, nurses and policemen don’t. If it is good enough for them to stay on duty, why is it not good enough for us to stay on duty?

Mr Corbell does not want to come back because it would somehow be inconvenient. We are not proposing that we come back on Christmas Eve, but we have said that this is an important matter and we need to put on the record whether this new norm that we talk about is window dressing or actuality? Are the members of the Legislative Assembly prepared to scrutinise the government or are they just prepared to rubber stamp? We have to bring back Mr Smyth’s motion and we need to address those issues. We need to say substantively whether or not we support the scrutiny of government.

If we fail to suspend standing orders I think we send a clear message that we are not prepared to scrutinise the government. I want to put on the record that this Liberal opposition is prepared to scrutinise the government and will not step back from doing this. What we are seeing here today is the old manager of government business, the one who thinks that he can get away with anything. He says that the government will not be supporting this.

This is the new norm and I put it to all the 10 members who do not form the government: are you prepared to scrutinise them? If you are prepared to scrutinise them, you need to suspend standing orders and bring back Mr Smyth’s motion so that we can have a substantive debate about the first step of scrutinising this government.

There is $30 million of taxpayer’s money which is about to be spent. Not all of this was foreshadowed before the election. Not all of the proposals are urgent and have to be passed before Christmas. Those things need to be scrutinised. After all, Mr Corbell has a whole new department which is going to cost something like $6 million. That was never discussed before the election. Never once was it discussed before the election and suddenly it is urgent. There may be good reason for doing it, but that matter has not been scrutinised, and it will not be scrutinised unless we suspend standing orders, bring back this motion and have a substantive debate.

MR SPEAKER: I call Mr Seselja.

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