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MR SPEAKER: Order! It being 45 minutes after the commencement of Assembly business, the debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 77.

Motion (by Ms Tucker) agreed to:

That the time allotted to Assembly business be extended by 30 minutes.

MR HUMPHRIES: As I said, there is a whole range of issues that could be touched upon, and one can get a view about what the issues are that affect people in the Territory and what they are concerned about. The issue that is brought to the surface by these comments - the one of how we continue to gauge, assess and monitor community views in these areas, and the question of how the community is appropriately consulted, through the tracking of issues like this - is obviously very important.

On the question of planning, for example, the Government, as members know, has embarked on attempting to track community views about planning through a process of establishing local area planning advisory committees, and the last of the elections to those committees was held last night. I attended the first of those three on Monday night. I cannot comment on the subsequent two meetings; but I must say that I thought the first meeting was a good meeting, with people expressing their views, but no-one being, in my view, extreme about that. There seemed to be a strong view that people would be able to work together on that committee and put views to government. I hope that is the case with the other two committees as well.

Mechanisms like that are going to become increasingly important, I believe, in order for us to use methods of gauging community opinion which are not traditional in the Westminster system. Traditionally, people have the right to come and address committees of the Assembly, to sign petitions to the Assembly, and even to exercise the more radical right, if you like, of standing outside the Assembly with placards and megaphones; but we need to be developing sophisticated methods of gauging directly what the community is saying about things and I think mechanisms like, if not identical to, LAPACs will be more and more important. Members would be aware also that the Government at present is developing its approach towards other mechanisms that would be appropriately used by the community to ventilate views which do not fit necessarily within the traditional means of making points of view known to elected governments or elected assemblies. As those issues develop we will need to debate them in this place and develop strategies for dealing with them.

I want to say, finally, that I notice that the committee has taken on board some complaints by the Council on the Ageing concerning language which was sometimes, at least as far as the ageing were concerned, felt to be denigrating. I refer to terms like “grannies” and “old girl”, referring to vintage cars, and “granny flats”. I confess that I have a granny flat under my house and I look forward to the committee giving me an idea of what alternative phrase I might use to describe the flat in which my father lives at the moment.

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