Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004-2005 Week 1 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 121..
Australian engineering excellence awards
MRS DUNNE (Brindabella) (6.01): Mr Speaker, I would like to place on the record my thanks to the people of Ginninderra for their support of my canvassing in the last election. I would also like to place on the record that it seems that one of the jinxes of the Hare-Clark system was broken in the last election. It was pointed out to me recently that, as a rule, the person who is elected fifth in a five-member electorate is usually bundled out at the next election. I am glad to say that that did not happen in my case. In fact, not only did I avoid the wooden spoon of being elected fifth but actually managed to move further up the pecking order, as it were. I am honoured; I feel privileged; and I thank the people of Ginninderra for returning me, in a sense, in a more auspicious position by being elected third out of the five members. I would also like to pay tribute to my family and those people who supported my candidacy because, as we all know, it is not a job that one person can do.
Seeing that Mr Seselja spoke about Karinya House, I do not need to, except to say that it is a fine organisation that provides excellent support to people in the community. I commend the work of Karinya House to members.
I did want to touch, Mr Speaker, on the issue of pairs in the Legislative Assembly. Pairs are, for the most part, a gentlemen's agreement that allows for the orderly running of a legislature, a parliament. It is a gentlemen's agreement basically between groupings to maintain voting ratios in the event of the absence of a member of parliament. In a very small place like this, pairs are very important indeed.
I want to place on the record that, despite the narrowness of the government's majority, we will not be going down the path of the Queensland opposition back in the late 1990s. At that stage the government held a very slim majority-I think they depended on the casting vote of the Speaker-and the opposition at that time really played pretty hard ball with the issue of pairs. As a result, on many occasions ministers were unable to attend important meetings like meetings of ministerial councils because, first of all, they could not get a pair and, if the pair was provided, they could not actually guarantee that the pair would be honoured.
I want to place on the record that the Liberal opposition will not be going down that path. We will continue to provide for the gentlemen's agreement about maintaining voting ratios and will always provide pairs in the case of illness of a member or close family member, for other personal needs that members may have and for ministers to attend ministerial councils and other related business, and their reasonable travel. Just because you are going to a ministerial council-I want to put on the record-you do not get an early pass to go shop in Sydney or Melbourne beforehand. There is often business before ministerial councils and we would allow for that, but it has to be reasonable.
Mr Speaker, there have been occasions when pairs have not been provided in the past, and some of these issues may not arise this time because of our bundying off at 6 o'clock