Page 2774 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 29 June 2011

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Firstly can I make it clear that the government do not oppose the bringing on for debate the amendments proposed by you, Mr Speaker, in relation to the electricity feed-in tariff legislation. We accept that is a matter that needs to come to some conclusion this week, and we have no objection to that. The government do, however, have an objection to the proposal that the bill proposed by Mr Smyth, the Electoral (Donation Limit) Amendment Bill, be brought on for debate this week. There is no justification for an urgent debate this week.

First of all, this bill has been introduced on the basis of rumour and innuendo which have not been substantiated in any way. Secondly, the Greens have indicated that they will not be supporting passage of this bill today. So why is this bill so urgent for debate today if it is not going to be passed today? It simply makes no sense whatsoever. Further, this bill has retrospective application clauses within it which, in any event, in the regrettable situation where the Assembly were to agree to this law, would provide for application from a particular point in time. So again there is no justification for an urgent debate on this bill today. The government will be outlining in more detail its significant and serious concerns with this legislation.

Should this bill proceed to debate today, I would simply ask the question: if it is the position of the Greens that this bill not be passed through the detail stage today why is it being brought on for urgent discussion at this time?

We can just imagine the high dudgeon that we would see from those opposite if the government attempted to bring on a bill of this nature within such a short period of time when the subject matter of the bill is subject to inquiry by the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety, an inquiry which was commenced in November 2009 and which is yet to report. We are coming up to two years for that inquiry. The committee is yet to report on it and all of a sudden this matter is urgent.

If this matter was so urgent, why has not the inquiry reported? Why do we not have all of the substantive issues on the table to discuss it? Quite simply, there is no justification for bringing this bill on for an urgent debate today, and the government will not be supporting the procedural motion.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Corbell, do I take from your comments that you wish to divide the question?

MR CORBELL: No, I am not proposing to divide the question.

MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (10.23): This is new territory for the Assembly and there is no clear guidance on when it is and is not appropriate to debate bills in the same sitting period, other than our general view that it is undesirable unless there is a compelling reason to do so. We all accept that there will be times where we do need to respond to matters quickly. Articulating exactly when that will be is a difficult task and is something that will evolve as the Assembly has more occasions to consider it, just as many other parts of our practice evolve over time. We should be working towards developing an objective test for when we do and do not agree that a bill should be debated in the same sitting period.

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