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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (27 March) . . Page.. 908 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

On the question of whether you would change standing orders to make the same rules apply to the answering of a question, I am not sure that that is a good solution, just as I am not sure that the other potential solutions that have been put today are good because we have to be careful that we do not get too restrictive. We have a very important role here, and we do not want to get to a situation where we are so muzzled that when it is really important and necessary for the public good we cannot say something that we could not say outside.

That is why I want to stress again that I think playing around with the standing orders is a really serious thing. That is why I repeat my concern that Mr Moore thought he could just have this after a couple of days notice and debate completed today. I am aware that he has stated here that we were given notice, but there was not very much notice, I have to say, for the seriousness of these sorts of proposals. (Extension of time granted.) It is an extension of the powers of the Speaker. I think we should have time to look at that and consider it in a thoughtful way, not just in a debate here after a couple of days notice.

MRS BURKE (11.50): There have been some comments made about me in this place today, and I would like the opportunity to clarify the situation. I was actually highlighting and perhaps defending the inequities that exist for potential women candidates in the ALP, and, far from being geed up by Mr Moore, he urged me on a couple of occasions to wind up my speech, which is what I did.

MR BERRY (11.51): I intend to speak briefly on the motion that has been put forward by Mr Moore. I foreshadow that I will move a motion, as referred to by Mr Moore during his speech, to refer this matter to the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure.

Mr Speaker, when I first heard of this I made it clear to Mr Moore that this matter ought to have been determined by or looked at by the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure. I have always resisted it coming to this house in the form that it is in. I hope that clarifies that issue.

Turning to the events which gave rise to these motions, I would like to draw a few things to the attention of the Assembly. I do not mind some strategic interjections, and I do not mind provocative speeches, but, Mr Speaker, it gets to a point sometimes when there is a limit to everybody's patience. Mr Speaker, I admit that I have good days and better days. I suspect that there are other people in this place who might go so far as to admit that as well. We are not usually a bunch that confesses to any major failings. So I do not mind that sort of thing in the chamber. There is a contest of ideas going on in here and it is open to the opposition or crossbenchers or opposing forces within the Assembly to draw to the community's attention the failures of the other side whatever the argument might be about.

Mr Speaker, one of the issues that have been most contentious in relation to question time has been the word "concise". I think there are some historic reasons for why "concise" is in the standing orders concerning ministerial responses to question times. When I look at the Macquarie Dictionary it says "concise" means "expressing much in few words; brief and comprehensive; succinct". The Concise Oxford says "brief but comprehensive in expression". In other words, it seems to mean short. I am not sure whether "concise" is the right word, but it is the word that is in the standing orders

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