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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 13 Hansard (27 November) . . Page.. 4813..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

government in this Assembly would be very aware that, on a three-year fixed term, the budget cycles come around quickly.

The years turn fast. We have been in this Assembly now for more than two years. We as a government have delivered two budgets, and there is one to go. My experience in government is that the quality of governance, the quality and capacity of the government to deliver on its agenda to meet the wishes and aspirations of the people, will be significantly served by adding a year to the term of the Assembly. I simply do not accept any of the arguments that have been mounted around this being anti-democratic or in any way diminishing the capacity of the Assembly to be held accountable.

Having four-year terms would make us consistent with almost every other jurisdiction in Australia-certainly the majority of jurisdictions. It is happening everywhere else around Australia, and we are no different. I do not know how you could possibly argue that the people of New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, the Northern Territory or South Australia would claim that they have a less accountable parliament or a lesser democracy, in any way, as a result of the fact that they have moved from three to four-year terms. They have done that and, in the majority of those instances, they have fixed terms.

This is consistent with what is happening around Australia. I think this would make us the sixth of the nine jurisdictions to do this. In one other jurisdiction legislation has been introduced but has not yet been passed. It would mean we would be approaching a situation where six of the nine jurisdictions in Australia have four-year terms, the majority of those terms being fixed. I believe the time for this has come, in the development and maturing of this parliament and this institution within the ACT. I think this is a good move for us to be making at this time.

I will concede-the point was made by the previous speaker-that I have changed my view on this issue over the last six years. I am prepared to admit to that. I have owned up to it quite openly. I have changed my attitude and view about the three-year term as opposed to the four-year fixed term. I believe this is an appropriate time for us to be making this adjustment to our Electoral Act.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

Sitting suspended from 12.29 to 2.30 pm.

Questions without notice

Economic white paper

MR SMYTH: My question is to the Treasurer. One of the real sagas of this government has arisen from your promise, made in June 2001 whilst in opposition, to prepare an economic white paper. This saga has involved a major additional investment in a raft of


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