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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 March 2021) . . Page.. 581 ..


The administration and procedure committee has done a very small review of the standing orders to make sure that we can continue to function as we go along, noting that we will have coming up a much larger and comprehensive review of substantive issues around the standing orders. All members have brought forward some things that can be considered in that review, and I look forward to having a discussion in a collaborative and productive way, which I am sure we will all be able to achieve. In the meantime, this one will keep this place running so that we can do what it is we do.

MR HANSON (Murrumbidgee) (11.46): This is a report that the opposition supports. As Ms Orr has outlined, they are routine changes to make sure that this place continues to function and incorporate many of the changes we have adopted through the COVID response—changing the form of this place so that we have a different sitting pattern, with private members’ business every day, no MPIs and so on. Other changes have been incorporated, based on advice from the Clerk.

There are a couple of issues that each of the parties is pursuing, and I want to highlight a couple that we have agreed to a kick down the road for a more substantive review. They are important and we will certainly litigate them then. I have agreed not to do that at this point, which I am sure delights Madam Speaker and Ms Orr.

One issue is that, with 25 members in this place, the time allotted for the adjournment debate is sometimes not sufficient and we have looked at ways around that. One idea is that of member statements, which would essentially mimic adjournment debates but happen prior to lunch. However that happens, we need to have a form to make sure that there is sufficient time for people to have adjournment debates. They are important, particularly now that we have got rid of MPIs and we need to make sure that we have that space where we can discuss issues that are important to our community.

At this stage, the workaround is that if we get to the end of the day and we have run out of time we will seek leave for an extension of time. I am advised that whoever will be sitting in the chair will be gracious and allow more time for the adjournment. We will monitor that one and if the enthusiasm for adjournment debate continues, I think there is a willingness to accommodate that.

The other matter is question time, which is done differently in different parliaments. There are two substantive issues here and the first goes to the principle of question time. Its purpose is to scrutinise the government, but too often we see dorothy dixers from both Labor and Greens backbenchers—all members of the government. I know that this is a matter of philosophical dispute, but at the end of the day it is Greens members asking Greens government ministers dorothy dixers or providing their questions in advance to their coalition partners in the Labor Party. That is hardly scrutiny.

If ministers want to make statements and spruik the good work they are doing, there is ample opportunity for that in ministerial statements. We just spent the last nearly two hours dealing with ministerial statements. There are many opportunities for that, and I would like question time to have a greater emphasis on the scrutiny of government


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