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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (30 August) . . Page.. 3799 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

When the grudges, the slights and the slings and arrows hit or bite, the opportunity for us to reconcile is not there or, if it is there, is never taken.

I think this is a significant issue. It goes to the structure and nature of this building as well as our propensity to include each other in potential opportunities to celebrate the good that we do as a parliament. There is a whole range of issues around that. One is the extent to which, when there are visiting dignitaries in this place, governments in this place have found a role for our oppositions. I attended a reception in the federal parliament last week for a visiting Israeli delegation. The Leader of the Opposition in the federal parliament, on the occasion of any visit by any federal delegation, is accorded almost similar standing and status as the Prime Minister. That is not the convention in this place. These are the sorts of issues that Professor Pettit, from the outside, points to as perhaps a way forward in terms of the issues that Mr Moore has raised today.

MR HUMPHRIES (Chief Minister, Minister for Community Affairs and Treasurer) (4.50): Mr Moore has raised some interesting and important points and he has elicited some unusual responses in today's debate. I would only comment that perhaps the timing of this debate has been unfortunate. I think is the least convivial, least consensus-seeking mood one will ever find politicians in. Perhaps we need to revive the debate in another context. Nonetheless, the issues that have been raised are pertinent to our future and relevant to the way in which we operate as a community.

Some people would see the parliament as being at the apex of the ACT or any particular society. Having people who do various things in some sort of hierarchy, making decisions about where roads will go or what the laws will say, could be viewed as being at the pinnacle or the apex of the triangle, pyramid or hierarchy. There is not only the question of to what extent we assume responsibility and how that manifests itself in a process of making decisions that involve the people we are making decisions for but also the question of how much we set an example at that apex to people elsewhere in society lower down the pyramid.

I have to confess that on occasions I, too, like other speakers in this debate, have regretted the extent of adversarial disagreement that we have here and the extent to which we posture rather than put valid arguments in order to gain advantage. I think it is fair to say that at the end of the day, for the most part, it does not contribute very much to advancing our side in the debate but probably does ultimately detract from the standing of politicians across the board.

For that reason, I am not convinced that measures like the broadcasting of question time are designed to improve the standing of politicians in the community, given the way in which we tend to behave. I suspect that the broadcasting of question time or parts of question time from the House of Representatives has had a similar kind of impact. It probably has not helped the standing of federal members much, and I am not sure that broadcasting question time here would help us in this place either. But then again that is hypothetical. It might never happen.

Mr Stanhope quoted some comments from me at the 10th anniversary of self-government conference, where I talked about an evolution of self-government. He said I was endorsing the system of self-government. I would say that I endorse the system of self-government we have here, but I acknowledge that we need to move it on. We need

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