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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (30 August) . . Page.. 3793 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

Most of the committees provide decent and useable results, usually on a consensus basis. Of course there are some politics at the fringe. Nevertheless, I think we are getting to the stage where to try to damn this process is just madness.

I would hate to see the fact that Canberra has a parliament of the Westminster standard undermined, whether it is for political purpose, to gain votes, to curry favour or to cash in on resentment that self-government was imposed. I have been around this town long enough to remember when we had one parliamentary representative at the federal level who was allowed to vote only on matters that affected the ACT. There was resentment then, because we were second-class citizens.

Are we going to denigrate this place to the point where we want to change its shape, I think for political reasons, so that we are lesser citizens represented by a lesser body than, say, the Northern Territory, which has fewer people but a parliament with 25 representatives, or Tasmania, which is not much different in magnitude from the ACT and has a far greater array of political representation than we have? Do we want to take this place backwards by knocking it?

I think we should be proud of the fact that we have a parliament. We have ministers here who are members of ministerial councils, and they can walk into those councils as ministers. What are we going to have in the future-ministerial and aldermanic councils attended by minister, minister, minister and Alderman Rugendyke? We would turn ourselves into something of a joke.

To decry the Westminster system or to decry the process of constructive debate and constructive tension between parties is to throw the baby out with the bath water. No, it not perfect by a long way, but if you have a government, an opposition and a crossbench and you have an element of competition, public debate teases out all the nuances of a particular issue. You do not get a ready rush to consensus, with people saying, "I am more interested in consensus than you are."

Adults can form a parliament where there is tension, debate and competitiveness. The product of that can be far more constructive than the love-in type of approach that was marginally inherent in what Mr Moore said and far more so in what Mrs Burke said to follow it up.

Mr Moore said that if we changed our system or changed our ways, people might have more respect for us. From what I know of the community-I get out amongst the community every now and then-some of the members of this Assembly are respected in the community and some are not. It does not have a great deal to do with which party you are attached to. It has a lot to do with the image they project and the standards and the principles they stand by and are known for. Many of the members here are respected by many of the public. No-one is respected by all, and some of us, obviously, are respected less than others. But I do not think it has anything to do with the structure of the parliament. It has a lot to do with the people we really are.

On oppositional politics, I want to read a paragraph from my inaugural speech in this place:

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