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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 3091 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

I have always been of the view that before question time in the Assembly is broadcast it would be appropriate to make sure that members of the public heard some of the very sensible debates that take place in this chamber. I think members of the public who had listened to or watched the debate that took place today on the referendum issue would say, "Yes, Assembly members have thought about that. Although there are strong and different views on this issue, they expressed their opinions in a reasonable and rational way; any difference of opinion was sorted out and in the end it was put to a vote; and, in spite of those strong opinions, the debate as largely conducted in an appropriate way."

Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, there is no question that the workings of this Assembly ought to be heard by the public. I think Mr Wood, Mr Berry, Mr Humphries, Mr Kaine and I were here in 1989. Mr Stefaniak, who was also here in 1989, took a little bit of a breather for a while and then came back. We remember how difficult those first few years of the Assembly were. When you went to a public meeting the first thing that was said was: "Well, we didn't want you anyway." On many occasions it must have been particularly difficult for Mr Kaine as Chief Minister.

A huge amount of work has been done to get people to accept that we do exist as an Assembly. We influence the daily lives of individuals. We have a huge responsibility and I will be very pleased to hand over that level of responsibility to other people.

The legislation we are now dealing with leaves room for the next Assembly and whoever happens to be here to develop the rules structure. I suggest that each step be taken very carefully. I am not saying that there should never be broadcasting of question time-I am saying it should be done step by step to make sure that the Assembly improves its status within the community.

MRS BURKE (7.47): Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I want to make a couple of points. I would agree with Mr Moore that we have seen a very high level of debate today. I also agree with Mr Stanhope that disconnection separates people from the decision-making processes.

If broadcasting ensures a higher level of professionalism and behaviour in this place then I obviously agree that that is what we need to be doing. This behaviour must, of course, begin with all of us in this place. Only we can work on this culture change. Hopefully there will be flexibility in this legislation so that Assembly members can look at some of the broadcasting issues.

I have a concern-and this point has already been raised-about the televising of question time. Quite frankly, question time in the federal parliament often looks like a circus. If that is the opinion and perception of people then the wrong message is being sent. I believe that message is washing down to a local level and we need to take that into account in this place.

Of course, we all should be under public scrutiny at all times, not just at certain times, so there is that side to the debate, too. Our behaviour should be beyond reproach. The general public does need to see us more, we need to be more visible, and, as Mr Stanhope said-and I like this description-we need to be user friendly.

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