Canberra Times . . Page.. 201 ..
The resources given to his office now are quite substantial and are an indication of the will of this Assembly. I believe that we can, fairly and with great respect, ask our Speaker to undertake the responsibility of inviting groups in to see us on a Tuesday night. I think we should strengthen his position by asking that he take out advertisements of our sitting times and place an invitation with those advertisements. The Canberra Times has never, in the goodness of its heart, published our sitting times. People find out in the Wednesday press - the day after - that Tuesday night has happened. “Tuesday night was very quiet”, says the Canberra Times. Of course it was very quiet. They never published on Monday, “Tuesday night is going to be on; please come and see us”. So, forget the goodness of heart of the Canberra Times. I think we should ask the Speaker to put an ad in the paper and invite people in. We should pay to do that.
Then what I propose is that we do not abandon Tuesday nights and that, prior to the next three sittings - this is the reverse of what Mr Moore has suggested - in June, August and September, the Speaker go out of his way to ensure that groups know that they are welcome and that he place the advertisement with the invitation. We can take that as our three-month trial. As well, every member in this Assembly would assist. We all have friends. We all have contacts.
The next part of my proposal is that the Government go out of its way to ensure that debates of importance are placed on the notice paper for Tuesday night. We discuss enormously important things - things that have great significance for the lives of the people of Canberra. It is not difficult for us, as a collective - either as the Government or as the Assembly - to direct which part of that debate will be put on on a Tuesday night. So, collectively, we organise our activities in a way that says, “We care about the people of Canberra whom we represent, and we want to share our work with them”. It is simply not good enough to say that they can come and see us during working hours. It is just an excuse to hide our endeavour. It flies in the face of the spirit of this Assembly, the building and the clear will of all its members. I think that by accepting my proposed trial we can make a difference to community attitudes and our standing in the community.
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (11.30): Mr Speaker, I admire the passion that Ms McRae put into that speech; but I must say that I do not find it very convincing, nonetheless. There are a few myths of the Labor Party's own making which I think they have been able to raise in this debate, and I would like to address those. I am interested in this concept of trialling a different arrangement, having some kind of different method of encouraging people to come into this place. I think that that is an idea that Ms McRae might find very worth while; but I have to ask why she did not trial that arrangement while she was Speaker for three years in this place.
Ms Follett: Because we still had Tuesday nights, for one thing.
MR HUMPHRIES: Ms Follett interjects, “We still had Tuesday nights”; but what Ms McRae was talking about was beyond Tuesday night. She was talking about active advertising of the Tuesday nights through the Canberra Times. That would have been a wonderful idea, and she had the opportunity. She was spending something in the order of - - -