Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 9 Hansard (18 August) . . Page.. 3831..
The Assembly voted-
Question so resolved in the negative.
Assembly sitting hours
MS MacDONALD (11.33): I move:
That this Assembly:
(1) recognises the impact late night sittings of the ACT Legislative Assembly have on Members and staff and their families;
(2) notes that the effectiveness of work and the quality of debate diminish during late night sittings;
(3) agrees that a time limit and alternative sitting patterns need to be considered to ensure quality debate and effectiveness; and
(4) requests that the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure inquire into this issue.
This is a simple motion but if it is agreed to it would make a big difference in this place. Not only would we as members of parliament benefit; our families, our staff and their families would also share in the benefits of implementing set sitting times. I believe that the ACT community would also benefit through a reduction in sleep deprivation and work-related stress for its elected representatives, their advisers and staff. It has become common in this place for members and their staff to work increasingly longer hours.
We can see proof of this in the longer sitting days of this Assembly. Members and staff generally begin their working day at 9 am; though there are often exceptions, for example, I know Mr Wood starts earlier than that. For the purpose of this motion I will calculate the working hours based on that time. If our staff work 7.21 hours each day, anything over that is considered to be overtime. If staff commence work at 9 am and they work for 7.21 hours, they should finish work at 4.51 pm with half an hour taken for lunch.
As members of the ACT Legislative Assembly we cannot expect to work set hours as do other professions, but we should not be expected to work 16-hour days or more on a regular basis. I will not select the time that I believe the Assembly should adjourn on sitting days; I will leave that up to the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure. In order to make the Assembly more family friendly and work conducive