Page 37 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 27 November 2012
debates, they want to have discussions, they want to have deals done in the back room rather than in the transparency of this place. That is what this amendment does—it pushes more deals into the back room rather than having a debate on this chamber floor. The Canberra Liberals will not be supporting the government.
If this amendment gets up, we will not be readily granting leave to the government to suspend standing orders because this is unworkable. If the government want to move this amendment to the standing orders, the government must be held to account and the government must live by those rules. We will not as a matter of course be granting suspensions simply because the amendments they are proposing today are not workable. And, deep down—or perhaps not that deep down—I think those opposite know this standing order is not going to be workable.
Finally, standing order 182 is, in effect, consequential, and we will not be supporting that.
In summary, the amendments the government has moved to the standing orders are indicative of a government that wants to work less and be less accountable to the people that elected it.
MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (11.01): I will be supporting these amendments today to the standing orders. I think they are designed in a number of places to improve the running of the Assembly. I turn particularly to amendment (5) around the new standing order on amendments. Mr Coe just made a number of points about this, and I have quite a different take on this provision. I think it will improve the transparency of the amendment process. Those members who were here last term will recall a number of occasions where we debated bills on the floor of the chamber that, frankly, got quite confused. Certainly as the Speaker there were a number of times where I vacated the chair to allow members to catch up on the amendments that were being done so quickly. I think we are going to see in the next few days a couple of bills where we are to go back and repair work from last term where things were perhaps done a little hastily.
Certainly, in my mind I see this playing out very differently from how Mr Coe just described it. Rather than being about, as he put it, deals in the back room, this will increase transparency. What will happen now is that all members will receive amendments 24 hours before the debate. They will have an opportunity to look at them and consider them and to discuss them with their colleagues, in fact, if they so wish. I think this improves both the transparency and the governance of the territory because amendments will not be done on the fly and they will be done in a considered way.
The consequence of this new standing order will be that if members do not have their amendments ready in time, the debate simply will not proceed; the debate can be adjourned. If members suddenly at the last minute discover an issue, they can come in here and seek the support of the chamber to adjourn the debate. That is a perfectly appropriate way to proceed. It may mean some things take a little longer to get done, but we will not have last-minute amendments coming into the chamber. I think that will produce better lawmaking in the territory, which is always something I am sure the community will appreciate.