Page 790 - Week 02 - Thursday, 12 February 2009

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Standing and temporary orders—suspension

Motion (by Mr Corbell) proposed:

That so much of the standing and temporary orders be suspended as would prevent order of the day, Assembly business, relating to the release of executive documents, being called on forthwith.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (3.58): This has turned out to be a fairly troublesome little item. I will go to that later, but I will speak about the generality of the proposal in the first instance.

Mr Corbell: On a point of order: the motion is that so much of the standing and temporary orders be suspended.

MRS DUNNE: I am sorry.

Question resolved in the affirmative, with the concurrence of an absolute majority.

Executive documents—release

Proposed new temporary order

Debate resumed.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (3.59): I do apologise for that. I will say those few words again, to make them valid. This has turned out to be a slightly troublesome issue because of the management of this by the manager of government business, and I will deal with that in a moment. But before I deal with that I would like to speak on the principle of the matter.

This initiative is part of the Labor-Greens agreement that was signed at the end of October after the election. One of the issues there was how to deal with disputes over Crown privilege and the tabling of documents. I suppose the emblematic issue there has been the unwillingness of the Stanhope government over three years now to table the Costello report.

In thinking about the merits of these provisions, I am a little concerned at the import of them in that it creates a situation where legislators are held to ransom to some extent and are not totally in control of their own business. It really should be the case that, if a legislature calls for documents, the documents should be provided. If there are issues on that, they should be dealt with. If the legislature persists in calling for the documents, they should be provided. If there is a recalcitrant minister who refuses to table documents once they are called for, there are forms within the house in terms of censure, expressions of grave concern and want of confidence that can be used to bring a recalcitrant minister to book. The issues of Crown privilege can still be accommodated in those forms, the forms that have stood us in good stead for a very long time—more than 100 years in Australia and perhaps close to 150 years in New South Wales.

But that having been said, there is a majority view in this Assembly that we need to create a mechanism, which is why the manager of government business has brought

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