Debates Day 3 - Thursday 1 May 2003
Parliamentary Record 11
Debates for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Thursday 1 May 2003 parliament, extraordinary that a Speaker should criticise an opposition for conducting a censure motion. A censure motion is the most important motion, as the Leader of Government Business indicated when the two censure motions were moved this week. By virtue of their importance, they have and always should and, hopefully will, take precedence over all other debate. Whether you, Madam Speaker, or the government considers those issues of importance, this parliaments elected opposition - here not for their own jollies or just to pass the time and have a good tim e-is here to pursue the interests of Territorians, as I hope, collectively, we all are. We all must show some tolerance and understanding that we are not going to agree with the actions of a particular member or a particular political party, or your point of view, Mr Deputy Speaker, as an Independent, because you have a right as does have every other member and the opposition, as the elected opposition and alternative government, has a right and, indeed, a responsibility - and a very strong responsibility - to come into this House with issues that they think are of sufficient importance to move the censure motion. I fmd it just extraordinary, with respect, that the Speaker should criticise the fact and, not only criticise the fact that the opposition moved censure motions, but did it with the intent - and that is an extraordinary statement in itself - to disrupt these sittings. Censure motions happen to be a very important issue; they do take precedence over all other business. To suggest that they should be done to disrupt the sittings, I fmd quite extraordinary. I am not going to pursue the matter any further. It is appropriate that we thank the staff. I was talking this afternoon to two of the staff who have been fostering the schoolchildren into the Chamber and talking about different issues that have arisen through the week. I will follow the example of the Speaker by finishing on a light note. Going by the comments made by the school kids, it was their view - as passed on to these very capable and very professional staff members who looked after the school kids - that the two members who take the reward for being the most boisterous in the Chamber were the members for Araluen and Nhulunbuy. Most unusual, I thought, and out of character for the member for Nhulunbuy. So, it is appropriate that some form of award be prepared for those particular members because it is an historic sittings. It might be appropriate that we take note of the comments of the kids and the expression of view that they have passed in that regard, and so reward on this historic occasion, the members for Araluen and Nhulunbuy. I close by saying it has been an historic occasion. It has been an extraordinary effort when you see everything that had to be done by all of the staff to achieve what has been achieved. I stand by the right, and will defend to the end, the responsibility and the ability for the opposition and the 25 members of this House to express their view in this House as they see fit, because when they cannot do it is the day the place should be closed down. Ms MARTIN (Fannie Bay): Mr Deputy Speaker, it saddens me greatly to stand in here on the final session o f this historic sittings of parliament in Alice Springs and hear an attack on a Speaker. I know the CLP has a track record of attacking Speakers. Sadly, it was the member for Braitling when she was previously the Speaker. In appalling parliamentary behaviour, a Speakers ruling was overruled by the then government. To hear the continuity of this contempt for a Speaker from the member for Katherine - and I assume reflecting the opposition position - is an embarrassment to our parliament. It is. We have a Speaker who is an Independent member of this parliament who, if you look at it in that context, is the most independent Speaker we have every had. To sit here and listen to the words of the opposition trying to defend their very poor behaviour in the run-up to these sittings and during these sittings, brings shame on the Territory parliament. So, I would like to say to our Speaker: you have overseen these historic parliamentary sittings with an independence that we respect and, from the governments point of view - and sadly I cannot say from the oppositions - you have done that with a great deal of dignity and, I must say with this sittings, a great deal of pride and excitement. It is sad to listen to the words o f the opposition. The arrogance we saw when you were government, which once overruled a Speakers ruling - which has never happened before - shows that you have not leamt, from your time in opposition so far, about parliamentary processes and behaviour. It saddens me that we should be coming to the end of this sittings in Alice Springs and witness this kind of behaviour. On behalf of this parliament and Territorians, I apologise to the Speaker and thank her for the independent way in which she oversees our parliamentary proceedings. I also pick up on some of the comments made by the member for Katherine about the costs of these sittings and the bleating way that he said: The Chief Minister got on radio and said: Why dont you ring me?, and I rang here straight away. Do you know what? She does not sit at her desk waiting for the call. She is actually busy and has a series of meetings and other engagements during the day. For the member for Katherine to expect that, when I say on radio that if he is genuinely interested about the cost of the parliament then give me a ring - and I 4000
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