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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 1 Hansard (29 April) . . Page.. 197 ..

MR CORBELL (5.49): The very brief point I want to make in this debate is that it is not just about people attending - I think Mr Berry has made the point very well that when the Assembly did sit in the evenings there was a stronger attendance than there is during the day - it is the very important point about people's ability to attend. If you think about when the Assembly sits during a normal working day, when do we not sit during a normal working day? We do not sit during the two hours when most people in the city, if they are working, take their lunch.

Mr Speaker, you would think that it would be appropriate for a legislature to be operating and for people to come and watch their elected representatives in action only at times when they are actually able to come and see them. And you would think it is logical that perhaps for one evening a week people ought to be able to come along and see what their elected representatives actually do, how they behave, how they speak and what they raise issues of concern on in this place. This is part of our job too. It is not the only part, but it is an important part. I think that what members should consider in this debate is not just whether or not people did or did not attend, but also whether or not we are making sure that we have opportunities for people to come and attend. At the moment, looking at the sitting pattern, we really do not.

MR HIRD (5.51): Once again, Mr Berry is wrong. I have been here under a night sitting pattern, and I look forward to your apology. Hansard will prove it.

Mr Berry: No, you have not.

MR HIRD: I have. We used to break from 6.00 pm till 8.00 pm. Then it was reviewed because of the request of the Chief Minister, through the Administration and Procedure Committee, to look at the financial and budgeting arrangements. I accept your apology.

This is an old chestnut that has been around for some time. If there is a controversial issue, the place will be packed. We have seen it on a number of occasions. Mr Berry is, once again, playing politics, using a manipulative - - -

Mr Berry: No, not here.

MR HIRD: Yes, he is; I know. It is a surprise to the new breed of Labor, those that have apologised to the electorate for their misgivings during the recent election where they had Mr Berry, then the leader, wanting to borrow half a billion dollars. When we came into office, Mr Speaker, we were $250m in the red and we have had to address that.

Ms Carnell: Mr Stanhope apologised for that.

MR HIRD: Yes, he did. That is right, Chief Minister. What Mr Berry wants to do again is to go on a spending spree, to spend more money. He is good at it - providing it is not his own.

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