Page 795 - Week 02 - Thursday, 12 February 2009

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MADAM ASSISTANT SPEAKER: Mrs Dunne, can you withdraw those comments and stick to the substantive issues.

MRS DUNNE: I withdraw the comments in full. But in making the point, I recall a number of occasions when Mr Corbell called members of this place a fool. Obviously he does not object to “fool”; so he must be a—

Mr Corbell: On a point of order, Madam Assistant Speaker: she continues to perpetuate the wrong by continuing to make those comments. She should withdraw unequivocally and address the subject matter of the motion.

Mr Seselja: On the point of order: we seek your ruling, Madam Assistant Speaker, on which words are unparliamentary, given the previous practice in this place.

MADAM ASSISTANT SPEAKER: Maybe I am showing my innocence as Assistant Speaker here but I did think “knave”, “fool” and “duplicitous” were unparliamentary. I suppose I could be wrong, given the standard of some of the comments that other members have made in this place. I agree that I am probably showing my naivety. I agree that Mr Seselja probably has a fair point in this place. Mrs Dunne, could you restrict your comments to the matter at hand rather than to Mr Corbell.

MRS DUNNE: Thank you, Madam Assistant Speaker. I will conclude by recommending to the Assembly the amendments that I have circulated. While we have reservations about the need for this process, there is a general recognition that it will happen and, therefore, we are determined to make it the best possible process.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water, Minister for Energy and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (4.14): It is, of course, always interesting that Mrs Dunne is unable in this place to argue a point without personal attacks on members who disagree with her. That is unfortunate, but I will not attempt to perpetuate that.

The government will not be supporting the opposition’s amendments. It is the case that when I proposed the motion this morning I envisaged that elements of these amendments would be included in the motion. It is unfortunate, as I have explained to members, that due to an error in the compilation of that motion the motion did not outline the mechanism as I proposed it in my opening statement in this debate. But I have corrected the record in that regard.

The reason why the government has changed its position is because there have been further discussions between the government and the crossbench members on this matter. I do not know whether the members of the opposition have noticed, but this is a minority parliament and there is a party with the balance of power. There is, of course, the opportunity to review matters on their merits, even at a late stage in the debate. Shock, horror! That is what the government has done.

There is nothing underhanded about that. It is simply the case that if matters where other members have concerns are brought to the government’s attention, we listen to

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