Wednesday 10 June 2009

Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - The subject of this motion by the member for Murchison is of course one that increasingly preoccupies our society.  The logical reason for this is that there are more older people in our community than ever before and there is a higher rate of terminal illness than ever before. 

Of course as we witness now, it is the subject of ever-increasing media attention and debate - which is not a bad thing.  It is a subject that we, as legislators, must face up to.  It is an issue which we can no longer postpone, as far as a lot of people in our community are concerned.  My perception is that the public wants this argument debated, resolved, and the debate closed.  We know, of course, there is a private member's bill before Parliament that should be properly and fully debated. 

My initial reaction to this motion was that, if agreed to, we would be putting the cart before the horse.  I felt that the time to decide on a select committee inquiry is after the bill has run its course in the House that it is introduced in and brought to that House by a member.  Had we proceeded with the same process here, somebody here wanted to introduce a private member's bill and it was subverted by a maneuver downstairs, I would expect that we would be aggrieved - as the member who is introducing the bill downstairs has been by the course of action that has unfolded. 

However, as things have unfolded over the last couple of days, I know that the person introducing the bill downstairs felt more comforted by the fact that the member for Murchison was prepared to put a time line on the report to Parliament.  I know that the member introducing the bill downstairs was concerned that there may be some delay in the debate - which I do not think is appropriate. 

I think we should proceed with the debate now.  With the member for Murchison I feel that there is a place for this opportunity for people with well-founded beliefs in this debate to put their case to a committee.  I think it is good to have it as part of the debate.  It does not stifle the debate going on out in the community - it can be run concurrently with what is happening in the media with the community debate, the forums, the meetings that might take place.  There is no reason that a committee process cannot unfold as well.  As I say, when the member for Murchison was able to establish a date for the reporting by her committee there was comfort to the member and I felt comfortable with that situation as well. 

However, as the day has unfolded of course we have the situation with the Attorney-General, Minister Giddings, introducing the motion in the lower House in the other place.  I hear that argument that she is putting forward, that it is better for it to be -

 Sitting suspended from 1 p.m. to 2.30 p.m.


MR FINCH (Rosevears)- I am just going through my ever-changing notes here as developments unfold.  I wish to make a couple of points in respect of this motion by the member for Murchison.  The presentation of the motion by the Attorney-General to the other place tomorrow is still hypothetical because it will be on a conscience vote so we are not entirely sure at this stage in this House whether in fact that motion is going to get approval and in fact be referred to the Community Development Committee.  In that case, as I understand our obligations for the Community Development Committee, the minister could then simply write with that reference to the Community Development Committee and we are obligated to take that reference on.

Ms Forrest - She said she would not do that if you read the media release.  She said that she would not do that because it was a matter of conscience.  That is why she did not do that.  If the motion downstairs was defeated it would be an unusual move indeed to then write to the committee and ask them to take it on.

Mr FINCH - The minister has stated that, has she?

Ms Forrest - In her media release she says:

'As Minister I could have referred the matter to the Committee to investigate this issue but felt that as this is a matter of conscience for all members of Parliament it was important the referral be debated in the Parliament.'

Mr FINCH - Thanks, I did not look over the page; I thought it finished down here.  In that case it is still hypothetical whether that reference is going to come to the Community Development Committee.  You did ask about the make-up and I think that has been clarified but I will just go back over those members.  We do have two members of the Government from the lower House in Heather Butler and Brenton Best. We also have from the Greens, Cassy O'Connor.  Brett Whiteley is the representative from the Liberals and from the upper House we have four members, the member for Mersey, the member for Elwick, the member for Murchison and myself.

Mr Wilkinson - Who is the chair?

Mr FINCH - Unfortunately it is me.  I do not mean to suggest that I am negative about this approach to the Community Development Committee because I believe that we have traveled down a path where we are able to take on references such as this. 

It would not be daunting to us and we have the ingredients in the committee now to tackle this and come up with that date of 2 October because three of the members who the member for Murchison is suggesting should be on her committee, are in fact on the Community Development Committee.  What they would bring to that committee they can bring to the Community Development Committee and in discussions with the member for Murchison I have said, 'Assist me as chair to drive this process through the Community Development Committee'. 

Given her earnestness and enthusiasm, we could present a very good report in the time lines that have been suggested, as her committee will also, if it is given approval of this House.  It would not be viewed favourably if we had two committees - the approval of the one here and then tomorrow the approval of the one in the lower House.  That would be ridiculous in the extreme.

Ms Forrest - Maybe if one was approved here, you would not need to proceed with the motion downstairs.

Mr FINCH -  I do listen to the argument by the Attorney-General that in fact she would prefer to see a committee doing investigation, to be representative of both Houses of Parliament, and I agree with that because this is a very important issue and it will be one of the biggest issues that I will confront during my time in Parliament. 

Part of my deliberations in respect of this motion is that I have a great deal of respect for the work of the member for Murchison.  I appreciate her enthusiasm and desire to flesh out issues and to see them fully debated.  I am generally encouraging of people and of initiatives, particularly by our members.  It is not something I would want to do to discourage the member for Murchison but I am heading down the path - I think you can tell - of not supporting her motion and that is unfortunate.

Mr Harriss - Unfortunately, you are not supporting.

Mr FINCH - Sorry?

Mr Harriss - Unfortunately, you are not supporting.

Mr FINCH - Yes, however you want it, whatever you want to read into it.  Whilst I hear what the member who is introducing the bill into the lower House is saying about not wanting the bill delayed, I do not accept that argument as a need for urgency when the climate for this issue is no different than it has always been since time immemorial so I do not accept that there is an urgency with this process but I appreciate the member for Murchison setting the date and introducing that into her motion as has the minister in the other House in putting 2 October. 

If that reference comes to the Community Development Committee we can meet that time line and the make-up of that committee will be such that I support the process whereby it would, if we were to have a committee, be a better way for us to go.  I am not going to support this motion by the member for Murchison. 

I think our electorates do not want to see us as procrastinators.  They do not want to see us frightened to make the hard decisions but we will be better served if we do have the work of a committee to be part of the public debate that is now going to ensue before this bill comes first before the lower House and then before our House.