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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 10 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 3229..


DR FOSKEY (continuing):

a volunteer staffer, given that such an activity was not part of his duties and the leader was neither aware of it nor condoned it.

The details of my third amendment go to specific instances where staff members present themselves as anonymous individuals at public meetings, consultations, special events and in the media, or they may declare their name but people outside this place do not know of their role in the Assembly. I would have thought it incumbent on members' staff to declare their position and distance themselves from the political or policy position of their member if they chose. I believe, however, that it is the responsibility of members to ensure that their staff are aware of that expectation and do not manipulate their privileged position of information and influence and thus be supported in taking action to dismiss such staff if they do. I can see no justification for the Assembly to fund MLAs to run a secret service staff. I think it should be very clear that staff work for a particular MLA.

My fourth and final amendment is again stating the obvious to an extent. Strangely, though, the obvious does not always happen. I believe it is important for members to work respectfully with all staff in this institution. It is a privilege to fill the position of a member of the Assembly and to be supported in that work, as we are by staff of this place. No-one could argue that everyone gets on easily and well with everyone else-we would not be human if we did-but the basis for any constructive approach to work is that we treat each other respectfully. Of course that is particularly pertinent with regard to a member's relationship with the non-partisan staff in this building who are duty-bound to provide exemplary service to every member, irrespective of their attitude, experience or creed.

When substantive problems arise there are policies and procedures in place in the Assembly that can and ought to be followed. It seems to me that this Assembly does not have such a strong collegiate approach as I believe has been in evidence in previous assemblies. I suspect the fact that we now have a smaller crossbench, a majority government and an opposition which can no longer raise the numbers to advance its motions might have something to do with that.

I do not mean to cast aspersions on any individuals in the Assembly, nor to overrate any previous members. It is, I believe, that we are not obliged to work with each other to the degree that various assemblies have required, and that may lead to a deterioration in behaviour. I have sometimes seen that in this place. I do, however, use this debate as an opportunity to emphasise that the territory and the reputation of the Assembly profit from a collegiate and collaborative approach. In that spirit I commend what I think are intelligent, moderate amendments to every member of the Assembly.

MR BERRY (Ginninderra) (11.54): Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to respond to the amendments. I thank Dr Foskey for her support for the code of conduct. I want to make the point first of all that the administration and procedure committee, in recommending the adoption of the code, said that there ought to be a review of the code some time in this Assembly to see what the experience has been and whether there ought to be any amendments. So I have an inherent resistance to too much change before we get to the point of the review.


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