Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (23 October) . . Page.. 3978..
Legal Affairs-Standing Committee
Report No 7
MR STEFANIAK(10.33): Pursuant to order, I present the following report:
Legal Affairs-Standing Committee-Report No 7-Changing the term of Assembly Members from three years to four years, dated 14 October 2003.
This includes a dissenting report, together with a copy of the relevant extracts of the minutes of proceedings, and I seek leave to move a motion authorising the report for publication.
MR STEFANIAK: I move:
That the report be authorised for publication.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
MR STEFANIAK: I move:
That the report be noted.
Firstly, I thank my colleagues on the committee, John Hargreaves, deputy chair, and Kerrie Tucker, together with our hardworking secretary, Judith Henderson, for this report. It is a report that was done in a fairly short timeframe. I also thank the 13 people who put in written submissions and the eight people who appeared before our committee, the first hearing of which was somewhat lively, which was good. I was a bit disappointed that of the 40 people to whom we sent out invitations to make submissions and appear only about 21 either appeared or made submissions on this most important issue.
It is an issue, however, that has been around for quite some time, as can be seen from the report itself. Professor Pettit conducted a lengthy inquiry back in 1997 to review the governance of the ACT, and that became known as the Pettit review. One of its recommendations was to extend the fixed term of members from three years to four. It is worth noting that that report, which was a major report of which we took cognisance, stated:
While no one sought a change to the fixed term arrangement, the majority of those who addressed the issue suggested that, as in a majority of comparable Australian jurisdictions, the term could be extended with benefit to four years. We agree. A four-year term would mean a saving in electoral costs; it would enable new MLAs to learn the ways of the Assembly and make their mark before facing an election; and it would make it possible for the Executive to take a longer-term view in forming their policies. While there is a greater possibility of a change in government in the course of a four-year period, as was suggested to us, we believe that this is not so serious a danger as to undermine the case for extending the period.