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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 3090 ..

Mr Humphries: You have to ask whether they want to know where the Assembly is.

MR STANHOPE: Perhaps. That goes to the nub of the point I am making, Chief Minister. If they do not know where it is, why not, and if they do not want to know where it is, why not? I think these are legitimate and serious issues. I think if we conducted a straw poll of the people of Canberra and asked them where the federal parliament is, everybody would know. But if you asked them where the ACT Assembly is physically located, I am not sure how many people in Canberra could tell you. I fear, very few.

The fact that nobody is in the public gallery at the moment-we talk and joke about this from time to time-and the fact that nobody ever comes to question time is a reflection on us. It is a reflection on the strength of this institution and our determination to make this Assembly relevant and meaningful to the people of Canberra. We are being scorned by the people. The fact that nobody ever comes here is a reflection of our collective failure to seek to connect the work of this Assembly with the lives of the people of Canberra.

I applaud the government for putting forward the amendments in this bill. I raise these issues for further debate and discussion.

MS TUCKER (7.42): I think this bill is a good move in that it extends the broadcasting of the Assembly and its committees to a potentially wider audience and makes the workings of the Assembly more accountable and transparent. It allows the public to see more of their MLAs in action, which could be quite a shock for some people, given the level of debate in this place in the last few weeks.

I acknowledge there is a danger that some MLAs could just start acting up for the camera rather than focusing on the issues. But I think Canberrans would see through this. On balance, I think it would be better for democracy if the workings of the Assembly were exposed to the public eye as much as possible. I will be supporting this bill.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health, Housing and Community Services) (7.43): Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I put the original bill before the Assembly. I think the amendments are positive and that they will add some openness to the Assembly.

It was interesting to hear Mr Stanhope and others say that the broadcasting of Assembly proceedings will open up the way this place operates. Indeed, if Mr Stanhope has his wish, people will be able to listen to the way he speaks while turning his back to whoever is in the chair; they will be able to muse at the way in which questions are asked and ministers respond.

Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I have indicated my view privately to members-I will do so publicly at this stage and what I say will not affect me personally. I would very strongly recommend that certainly, in the first instance, you do not broadcast question time. The only part of the proceedings of federal parliament and other parliaments that the media broadcast is question time. As a result, there is a perception in the broad community that parliaments are only concerned with question time. In fact, question time constitutes only a very small part of the business of parliaments.

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