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PRIVATE MEMBERS BUSINESS – PRECEDENCE
Suspension of Standing Orders
MR BERRY (11.06): I move:
That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent notice No. 6, private members business, relating to the proposed amendments to standing orders 30 and 74, being called on forthwith.
Would you like an explanation of that?
MR SPEAKER: I am not sure that the Assembly needs it, Mr Berry.
Question resolved in the affirmative, with the concurrence of an absolute majority.
STANDING ORDERS 30 AND 74 - PRAYER AND ROUTINE OF BUSINESS
MR BERRY (11.07): I move:
That the following amendments be made to the standing orders:
(1) standing order 30, omit all words after “shall be read:”, substitute the following words: “Members, at the beginning of this sitting of the Assembly, I would ask you to stand in silence and pray or reflect on our responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.”; and
(2) standing order 74, after “Prayer”, insert “or reflection”.
Mr Speaker, this issue of the prayer was raised a month ago in a report by the Administration and Procedure Committee. I am able to report, following discussion in the committee, that the majority of members of the committee felt that the existing prayer in standing order 30 did not reflect the spirituality of the community generally. I think that is a fair judgment. Others disagreed with the position which was taken by the majority of members of the committee. Nevertheless, it was decided that this matter would come on for debate about a month after the report was tabled in the Assembly.
During that month one matter was drawn to my attention, and that was that the proposed new announcement in the standing orders did not include the word “pray”. That was an unfortunate oversight, and I think it may have caused unnecessary concern in the community about the issue. The absence of the word “pray” may have given the impression, to some, that there was some intent to prevent people from praying in the chamber. That was never the view of anybody associated with this issue. In redrafting the motion I have included the word “pray”, and, as a result, I trust that people who may have been concerned about this issue will have their concerns allayed.