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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 1 Hansard (4 May) . . Page.. 188..


MS TUCKER (continuing):

lunch hour, and from 3.30 pm to 7.00 pm, instead of going so late. This would have reduced the administrative costs and the stress on members, staff and the bureaucracy, while still ensuring access. Unfortunately, no-one supports that; so we will not have the numbers. We will vote later according to the principle of access.

On the question of the prayer, the Greens are also concerned that we are inclusive of individuals' personal spirituality; so we think it is reasonable to make it a personal decision, whether it is called prayer or reflection, and that it be done in silence.

MR WHITECROSS (11.04): Mr Speaker, I rise briefly to support the comments made by my colleague Mr Berry and to respond to some comments made by Mr Hird. Mr Hird suggested that my absence from the chamber on Tuesday evening for a period was a discourtesy to some of the new members.

Mr Berry: Who said that?

MR WHITECROSS: Mr Hird did. Given Mr Hird's comments, I want to put on record that I did approach each of the members whose inaugural speeches I missed prior to leaving the chamber and advised them that I could not be here. So I did extend that courtesy to them. I should also note that I had originally understood that the inaugural speeches would be given during the afternoon and the draft agenda I was given showed ministerial statements occurring after the inaugural speeches, not before, as happened in practice. I would encourage Mr Hird in future, if he is going to reflect on my courtesy, to pay me the courtesy of checking his facts with me beforehand.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (11.05): Mr Speaker, as I understand the situation, we will not be debating an amendment to deal with the prayer today. It will come up at a later stage.

Mr Moore: That is correct. We might speak on it.

MR HUMPHRIES: Indeed, and that is why I want to speak on it briefly at the moment. I must say that I regret the move recommended by the standing committee to deal with the prayer in this way. It is not a question of imposing any form of state religion on members of the Assembly.

Mr Berry: Who said that it was?

MR HUMPHRIES: You made reference, Mr Berry, to state religion.

Mr Berry: Do not twist it, Gary. You are the greatest twister of all time.

MR HUMPHRIES: That is what I heard you say. The reference to a state religion implied, I think, that there is some kind of imposition on members of the Assembly who might not be Christians or believe in God. I think that is a fairly narrow view of what the prayer is all about.

Mr Berry: Yes, you would.


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