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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (30 August) . . Page.. 3795 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

I agree with what Mr Quinlan said about the dignity of this place and cynicism in the community. A lot of that is to do with the personal qualities that people bring to their work. It is quite often about personal capacity to practise restraint. It is a very tense environment on occasions in this place. I do not claim to be perfect. I interject sometimes, and I understand the frustration that people feel, as we all do. But the capacity to practise restraint is very important and needs to be cultivated by people in this place. We are in a very unnatural and stressful environment, particularly in the sitting periods. It is reasonable to acknowledge that. We work in a difficult situation and need to find personal skills to deal with it.

Respect is also extremely important. We are all here representing different constituencies in the community. While we work together and have common goals and objectives, we have different understandings of how to achieve those objectives. It is important to respect that in each other and in the different parties. When I speak to school students who visit the Assembly, I always stress that point.

I have been asked to sponsor or facilitate debates on occasions. I find university debates quite disturbing, because they tend to proceed on the basis that you win a debate by discrediting the opposition in as cruel and nasty a way as is possible. I have always found that a pity. I do not know why that happens. If that is what debating is thought to be in schools and universities, then no wonder we end up with what we end up with here on occasion.

I think this is a good discussion. This is going to be a really long day. In the interest of the dignity of this place and harm minimisation, I suggest that members refrain from having a drink with dinner tonight.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (4.36): I know there is a lot of business and that we are under some time pressure, but this is an important debate. I think it is important that we discuss these sorts of issues. I am always interested in discussions around governance or the way this Assembly operates. I am aware, even as recently as today, of the Chief Minister's continuing interest in issues of governance and appropriate forms of governance for the ACT. To some extent, the motion moved by Mr Moore today goes to the same issues around how this place performs, issues of governance and some of the implications of the form of government we currently have.

Mr Moore spoke of oppositionism and the adversarial structures we have developed here. That is a useful topic of discussion, though the contribution from Mr Moore in leading the debate did not go to issues around the style or nature of the institution we have here in the ACT. I had thought that that was a debate or issue that had been put to bed with the Pettit report, a significant report commissioned by the Liberal government which commented, quite appropriately, that the Assembly was developing well. It acknowledged that there had been some pressures and tensions over the previous 10 years, but that it was an Assembly or parliament that we had no need to continue to review of be apologetic about. There was no suggestion that it was not responding appropriately to the needs of the people of Canberra.

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