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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 6 Hansard (11 May) . . Page.. 1586 ..

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition)(10.12): Mr Speaker, I acknowledge at the outset that I will be sharing the limited time allocated to the Labor Party with my colleagues Mr Berry and Mr Wood. As you know, each of them has been in this place for the last 10 years.

Mr Speaker, it was 10 short years ago that one of your predecessors in this place stood to utter the first words in this parliament. That was Mr David Prowse, who, I am sure each of us recall, was a member of the No Self Government Party. It is a fine irony that the first person to speak in this parliament was a member of the No Self Government Party, somebody who stood on the platform of no self-government for the ACT.

Mr Prowse rose for the mundane purpose of proposing to the Assembly a set of interim standing orders. His action, while perhaps not as romantic or as earth shattering as Julius Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon, had for us here in Canberra perhaps as stark an impact on the self-governance of our Territory. To the extent that he did launch this parliament, it did settle us implacably into self-government. As Julius Caesar said as he crossed the Rubicon, "The die is cast". Julius Caesar said it in Latin and I would be happy to deliver it in Latin, but I probably could not do justice to Julius Caesar's ancient Roman pronunciation, so I will not.

My point is that there is no going back. We may massage our procedures in this place, we may change or amend our rules, we may toy with the structures, but the point is that we are now self-governing. There is certainly continuing debate about how best to govern ourselves. The Chief Minister alluded to this. This Assembly is engaged, through a select committee, in reviewing the governance of this Territory following the tabling of the report by Professor Pettit. But there is no longer a place, and it seems to me that there is no longer a need, for a discussion about whether or not to be self-governing.

In 10 years we have moved a long way. We have a vigorous and energetic parliament and a very healthy democracy. I will not go into them now, but there are a range of aspects of our operations and of the governance of the ACT with which I do not agree. These are issues that I am sure will be raised and discussed in detail at the conference that is being held tomorrow. I am not particularly attracted to minority government. I think there are aspects of Hare-Clark that do not necessarily enhance democracy. I sometimes have concerns - and I have expressed these - about what I regard as a lack of respect for some of the conventions of the Westminster system. These are issues that I think we can continue to debate and continue to work on. But that is a debate which we will have in another place and at other times.

I think on this date it is appropriate, Mr Speaker, that we acknowledge those who have come before us. In particular, it is appropriate that we acknowledge the first Chief Minister of the ACT, Ms Rosemary Follett, the first head of state, so to speak, for the ACT and the first woman head of state in Australia. That was a very significant achievement by Rosemary Follett and one which we should all acknowledge.

It is also appropriate that we acknowledge all those others who have served in this place. I understand that in the last 10 years there have been three Chief Ministers, three

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