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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 4 Hansard (2 May) . . Page.. 889..


MR SESELJA (continuing):

We also met over there with state representatives, local city and county representatives, lobbyists, union officials and various party and political officials, as well as members of the public service, in particular the state department in Washington DC.

It was a great opportunity and one which I understand a number of past and present Assembly members have taken part in. I believe Mr Corbell went on a previous political exchange, although not to the United States. I think Ms Dundas, who was previously here, may have gone on one of these, and I am sure there are many others.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank Jody Chapman from the Australian Political Exchange Council, who worked very hard to organise the trip from the Australian end, and to the ACYPL, the American Council of Young Political Leaders, who hosted the visit and organised most of the program.

It was a fantastic opportunity. It was fascinating to learn a little bit more about the US political system and how it works at the various levels. There is much we can learn from them but there is also, I think, much they can learn from us. There are a lot of oddities that we see in the system from our perspective as Australians travelling over there. It was very interesting to compare and contrast.

One of the interesting aspects was the opportunity to compare and contrast the situation of the District of Columbia versus the Australian Capital Territory. While we were over there, in fact, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would give representation in the Congress to the District of Columbia. To date, they have not had representation. At the moment I believe they have an observer. I am not sure whether that passed the Senate while I was there or subsequently. I understand that the trade-off was that there would also be an extra congressman from Utah, which is a Republican stronghold, so that the balance in the House of Representatives would not shift. I think that is similar to our experience back in 1975 when the ACT and Northern Territory were given senators. It was interesting to compare and contrast. Interestingly enough, I think we do better for representation than DC does, but I think we could certainly do better in future.

I found the exchange very valuable and I am sure all the delegates found it very valuable. The cross-party connections, as well as the connections made with various political leaders in the United States were certainly valuable. I am very grateful both to the Australian Political Exchange Council and to the American Council of Young Political Leaders.

Debate interrupted.

Leave of absence

Motion (by Mr Corbell ) agreed to:

That leave of absence be given to Mr Hargreaves for today's and tomorrow's sittings.


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