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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 14 Hansard (Thursday, 9 December 2010) . . Page.. 6059 ..


MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (10.49): I move the amendment to the sitting pattern circulated in my name:

February

8

9

10

September

13

14

15”

The Canberra Liberals do not believe that the default pattern of the last two or three years is an appropriate length of time for the sitting of this Assembly. The long-term historic pattern has been more like 16 weeks, and it has been the consistent view of the Canberra Liberals that we should have 16 weeks of sittings. It may be that if we had 16 weeks of sittings we would not be in the situation we have been in this week in dealing with legislation that is being pushed through at the last minute because the government has suddenly realised that it actually has some work to do. It may give the government an opportunity to better manage its program so that important legislation, some of which has national implications and certainly substantial implications for the community, is not rushed through at the eleventh hour.

It is interesting to note that we have a little bit of theatre and play acting here. Mr Corbell originally circulated a proposed sitting pattern that had 13 weeks in it. The Greens came back and said, “Actually, we’d like 14,” and the minister then said, “Actually, we wanted 14 all along,” which are the words he used in the government business meeting when this matter was raised. I am not quite sure what that little bit of theatre is about, except, of course, to cement the Labor-Greens coalition even further.

We believe the time the Labor Party and the Greens propose is not sufficient to do the work of the Assembly. There are many aspects of the work of the Assembly that get put aside. There are a range of papers that never get dealt with and that clog up the notice paper. They may never be dealt with and may fall off the notice paper unless something is done about it. There are plenty of other things to do apart from debate and pass legislation that is often ill thought out and rushed. There are aspects of the life of Canberra that can be addressed in other ways, which this government generally fails to do. I therefore commend to the Assembly the amendment I proposed on behalf of the Canberra Liberals. It gives us more time for exploration of the issues that are important to the people who elect us.

There is a wider issue in relation to the sitting pattern that needs to be addressed. Many other parliaments manage to sit during school holidays. I am not entirely sure why we should pack up all our goods and chattels and move out because of school holidays. Even as a parent I question that. Most of the people who pay our salaries do not get time off because it is school holidays. I think we should be prepared to work at least as hard as the people who pay our salaries. If they are required to be at work during school holidays, then perhaps the same should be said for us.

It is interesting that there is, again, a lengthy break over the July-August period, and I draw it to the Chief Minister’s attention that, if he wants to go overseas, that is the time that he should do it. He could not manage 14 weeks this year; he had to have two weeks off for good behaviour. I draw his attention to the fact that there is a lengthy period over the July-August period which, if someone does need to take some leave, is usually the time to do it. I recommend that he does that in future, rather than taking leave of absence during the very few sitting weeks that we already have.


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