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Canberra Times . . Page.. 187 ..

One other matter in the report of the committee relates to the way we handle the prayer. I saw some reports in the Canberra Times this morning suggesting that the Christian prayer might be under some threat. It is not. The procedure that is suggested in the committee's report is one whereby members stand in silence and pray or reflect in the way they wish. It is certainly not a threat to Christianity or any other religion and was never intended to be. My position is that we ought to be inclusive in our multicultural society. It is a society where some people may even be insulted by the Christian prayer, and I think we have to be a little more flexible in these matters. While I do not usually use the Canberra Times as my prime research document because of some questions about accuracy, I will use these figures - - -

Mr Moore: Because they suit you.

MR BERRY: Because they are the only figures I have at hand. I think there was some comment that about 70 per cent of the community say that they are Christians, about 30 per cent say that they are not, and about 30 per cent say that they are of Roman Catholic origin. That clearly indicates that there is room for change and that we ought to accommodate those changes and be inclusive and flexible. I think we can be, and I think each of us can reflect in our own way or pray in our own way as a result of these procedural changes that have been recommended.

I note also that it is proposed that this matter should stay on the table for some time before motions are moved in respect of it, and I think that is an appropriate course. For some, this course would be seen to be a break with a tradition that goes back to the United Kingdom, where there is a state religion. It seems to me that things have changed a bit, and it is appropriate that there is debate about this issue. I would not seek to impose my views in any way in the spiritual sense. It is not my right to do that; spiritual matters are matters of privacy to some people. I think it is important that we include a method whereby people can pray or reflect in their own way. So, the Government will be supporting this report and, as I mentioned, I will be moving a couple of amendments.

Mr Moore: Did you say that the Government will be supporting the report?

MR BERRY: I am sorry. I withdraw that. That was seriously misleading, because I know that they will not. I would not want to be seen to be misleading the Assembly, because there are some serious consequences that could flow. One has to be careful about these things; I might also draw that to the Government's attention. The Opposition will be supporting the recommendations in this report, and there will be more detailed debate on the issues when amendments are put forward later on.

MS TUCKER (11.02): The Greens are happy to recommend that this report be accepted. We were also interested in the discussion on the sitting hours on Tuesdays and listened to all the points of view. We came up with a compromise solution that we thought would probably cater for both concerns - the question of access out of business hours and cost saving. Our proposal was that the Assembly should sit between 11.30 am and 1.00  pm, so that people could come from outside in their

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