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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (30 August) . . Page.. 3805 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

I have happily been an elected representative for more than half of my working life. It has always been interesting to watch the reaction of constituents to a passionate debate. It is not something that often happens when they are arguing their case, but when at a union meeting, in an industrial court or in parliament they see their advocate getting stuck into it, they say, "Geez, you get stuck into it in there." But when you say, "My job is to make sure that you get a better deal out of this, and that is what you pay me for," they develop a better understanding of what politicians are about. (Extension of time granted.)

The opportunity for better government in this place will present itself time after time. Government will improve. But I do not think we should be criticising one another about the passion with which we pursue issues and about the adversarial nature of politics. Nor should we criticise the model of this place too much either. If we do that, we forget the important issues which affect people. It is an argument that we can have day and night, but it will not achieve a simple thing like unblocking a blocked drain or any of the more complex things that go on in Mr Moore's hospitals. The issue always has to be what we produce for the community.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health, Housing and Community Services) (5.19), in reply: Mr Kaine said he did not understand the purpose of this debate and questioned why we were having it. Having listened to the debate, he might reflect on whether perhaps it is time for him to retire. Perhaps that is a bit cruel. Perhaps I have even slipped into the very thing I was speaking against. Mr Kaine is the very person who was on radio today making innuendos about corruption within the public service.

I saw my motion as an opportunity for members to reflect and for me to reflect. I am absolutely delighted with the debate. I think the purpose has been well served. It has given us an opportunity to say, "What are we doing? How are we doing it? Are we doing it well enough? Can we do it better?" With the exception of Mr Kaine, everybody has responded positively. The issues Mr Kaine raised were all about things that existed when he was a minister. The irony of that should not be missed.

I was trying to draw a distinction between exposing people's ideas and making sustained personal attacks on a person's credibility. I was saying we should take time out to reflect on that issue.

Mr Quinlan spoke about constructive tension. The same theme came through in other speeches. I agree wholeheartedly. That will occur. Conflict is part of politics.

Ms Tucker spoke about conflict and the media. The media play a significant role. If they expose the hypocrisy of a person advocating one thing but acting in a different way themselves, I do not have any disagreement. That is reasonable. Yes, conflict is more interesting, but not always. There are some very positive, interesting stories that come out of members working together and getting agreement on a range of things.

The media gave low-level coverage to the home detention legislation that came through this Assembly. They could have written an interesting piece. That legislation even had an element of conflict about whether we should have remand or not.

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