Territory Stories

Debates Day 3 - Thursday 1 May 2003



Debates Day 3 - Thursday 1 May 2003

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Parliamentary Record 11


Debates for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Thursday 1 May 2003 relation to the costs that her department and other departments were contributing to this, the issues that were raised by the opposition may not have been necessary. The Speaker has, for the best part of the year, indicated and stated quite clearly and openly that the costs were to be in the order of $125 000 for the Legislative Assembly. Open and shut case; no further questions, Your Honour. However, the Chief Minister was interviewed on radio regarding the cost. She avoided the question and, indeed, she suggested that I should phone her on the matter, and have a briefing in relation to it. I immediately phoned her office when she finished her interview with Fred McCue on ABC radio only to be told: She is not here. Oh, that is interesting. The Chief Minister has just done a radio interview. She is busy. I asked the person who answered the phone: Okay. Is the Chief Minister busy in the office or out o f the office?. She is in a meeting. It was a very conflicting response, and not a response that you would expect from the Office of the Chief Minister who had just invited me to phone her for a briefing. I did so immediately knowing that the opportunity existed. What we might have been advised of was the costs in relation to ministers travelling, because those costs do not come under the Department of the Legislative Assembly. What are the costs for other persons? We have had a private lawyer here, as we should have, to advise the government on legislation during the course of the week. Was that to be advised to members? No, it was not. That is but an example of the sorts of external costs that the Chief Minister has avoided providing that, had she been more open, honest and accountable earlier in the piece, these matters may not have arisen in the way that they did. I also raise the point of the 42-minute debate in relation to the adjournment last night. The program - as you yourself, Mr Deputy Speaker, pointed out in this House at this podium yesterday at about this time - said that we would not be having a dinner break. If we are going to agree to a program, as we did in the February sittings, as to the course of business that was to be pursued at the Alice Springs sittings, as a parliament, if we cannot agree and carry through a program to be conducted in the following sittings, how could Territorians expect to have faith in the broader and more serious deliberations that we pursue on their behalf? It was clearly the governments intention to have the function yesterday, come what may, come hell or high water, because it was debated in the February sittings. Indeed, you might recall, Mr Deputy Speaker, that the original draft timetable for these sittings, as circulated by the government, was for us to start work at 10 am, finish at midday, recommence at 2 pm and adjourn at 6 pm. But for the opposition, we would have had, at these historic sittings in Alice Springs, a very subjugated debate - a debate that was restrained because we would have been finishing at 6 pm after just six hours work each day o f these sittings. We opposed that in the February sittings on the basis that, if this parliament was going to be taken to Alice Springs so that the people o f Alice Springs can experience what parliament is all about, they will experience a parliament that is real. They will not experience a parliament whereby we break off at 6 pm so we can off to the jollies and have a picnic or a party or some cocktails, because the Chief Minister thinks it is appropriate. On that basis, the debate of 42 minutes last night, although it was lengthy, was appropriate, because we were pursuing the maintenance of a timetable and a program for this sittings that had been jointly agreed by all members in the February sittings. The government were the ones that went back on that agreement. The government were the ones that cancelled the arrangements that we collectively had agreed to and, from that point of view, it ill behoves the Speaker to be making the sorts of remarks that she did in that regard. In any event, they are the very types of issues that, sadly, do take up a lot of parliamentary time. Procedural debate in this House, and every other parliament in the Westminster system, is often one that occupies a lot of time. It is, quite naturally, seen as a waste of time by those who are not familiar with it and, indeed, as members, we often ourselves consider those debates to be a waste of time. However, they are important parts of process and we were simply pursuing a matter that this Assembly had agreed to in February, but the government chose to break that commitment last night. That was a fair and reasonable pursuit of a matter that should be of importance to this House. With regard to early stops of adjournment, I take the point of the member for Braitling, in relation to the fact that, in the past, there have been many occasions when the House has adjourned early. I could, just as the member for Braitling did, go to those Parliamentary Records that sit before you and give many examples of when this House has sat until 10 pm, 11 pm, midnight, 1 am, or 2 am. I ask, in fairness and without being provocative, why was it that Madam Speaker chose simply to give examples where the House has adjourned early and avoided giving examples where the House has adjourned late? That would have been a balanced representation of the historic business of this House, and much fairer. In relation to the censure motions it is, in my mind and with over 16 years experience in this 3999