Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 25 November 2021) . . Page.. 3672 ..
going to community councils or whatever it might be—“so let’s have another sitting week to compensate for that or let’s sit on Fridays.” That is what I am saying. On the one hand, you are reducing hours—and that is fine—but you are not then balancing that out on the other side. You have not done that at all. All you have done is reduce the hours in this place to make it more family-friendly without increasing the hours to allow us to do the important work that we used to do.
Mr Gentleman’s speech—I did not quite know what to make of that one, to be honest, but it was entertaining. When you do not have something substantive to say in response, you go for the smear, the attack and the personal diatribe. That is what Mr Gentleman did. He did not have any substantive defence to it, so he just went on the personal attack. I am disappointed by that. It is a bit unedifying for the Manager of Government Business to do that, but it is not surprising. He did not have any substantive argument so he thought that it would be useful just to smear and say it was a stunt.
The problem is that this is not just me advocating for this; this is community councils. What are the community councils and residents associations that are tuned into this debate—and a number of them are—going to make of that? Do they feel happy that Mr Gentleman has called this a stunt, that this is all schoolboy antics? Or do they think, “This is something that we support. This is something that we advocate for. If Mr Gentleman has a substantive response that deals with the issues, then let’s hear it”? But just to smear and attack on a personal basis is a direct attack on those hardworking community councils and hardworking residents associations. They will have every right to be disappointed and, again, will try and call on Mr Gentleman to go to a community council. I know that there was a lot of debate and the community councils were saying, “Please come and talk to us”, and he did not do so.
What this Assembly has done progressively over the time that I have been in here is reduce its hours. It has reduced its hours in terms of how long we sit each day, and it has reduced its hours in terms of the number of weeks that we sit. But what we have also done, in balance, is increase the number of politicians by eight, on the promise that we would all get more done, we could all work harder and we could all do more. Mr Gentleman used to be on seven committees. There is work that we can do. We can all work hard. We can all make sure that we get that work done and have those extra sittings. We used to do it. Our forebears, the people who set up this Assembly, used to do it. They used to be able to do it. Why can we not do it?
Madam Speaker, I am disappointed that this motion will not get up. We will continue to advocate in our community our core responsibility as parliamentarians; we should uphold that. We as an opposition see this place as vital for a whole range of reasons. Good government comes from good opposition and good and effective scrutiny. This government should not shy away from scrutiny. It should not shy away from coming into this place, answering questions, dealing with motions and dealing with the parliamentary business that we have. At the end of the day, if it does that and responds, it actually makes a better government, which I think we should all support. This continued winding down of scrutiny, be it through the committee process or through the parliament, I think, does no service to this government; it does no service to the parliament. Whilst we are trying to argue for states rights, I do not think it is