Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 124 ..
MR HARGREAVES (continuing):
imperatives of the Chief Minister or the Assembly to report back are not confusing, as was the case in my original amendment.
We believe that we need to have the recommendations concluded and provided to the Assembly by the end of June. If the Assembly accepts and decides to implement any recommendation for change, there needs to be a sufficient lead time for the Electoral Commissioner to re-determine boundaries. That is why I have asked that the standing committee report back by the end of June 2002.
It would be nice, of course, if the Chief Minister could report back to the Assembly within that same time frame. My only worry about that is that we have, in a sense, two requests running concurrently. My amendment only really addresses one time frame. However, I am pretty sure that if we ask the Chief Minister to enter into discussions, after a month or two he will be reminded by the other side of the house of that request. I would hope so. I would also hope that the reasons for any lag in doing so would be forthcoming in the report. I am sure that the newly crowned chairman of the Legal Affairs Committee would not let rest the fact that something had not been provided.
I recommend this amendment to members in the spirit of us moving forward. I am concerned that the workload on members and ministers is significant. I do know that one of the difficulties about Hare-Clark is that, although I have one-fifth of the 100,000 people, or 60,000 voters, in the Brindabella electorate, I don't know which 20,000 are mine. You have got a problem on your hands if you find that there is an imbalance in the work ethic of certain members. So we need to address that issue. Mr Speaker, I recommend to the Assembly that this amendment be passed.
MR HUMPHRIES (Leader of the Opposition) (11.41): I rise to indicate that the opposition will support the amendment moved by Mr Hargreaves to this motion. I would like to indicate as clearly as possible that the Liberal Party wish to avoid playing politics with this matter. For some time debate has ensued in the community about the way in which this Assembly is constructed, the way in which it works and the extent to which it might work better if there were a different configuration of the size of this place.
There are strong arguments for a larger Assembly, and I put that on record. I do not indicate that the Liberal Party has at this stage a fixed view about whether or to what extent the Assembly should grow, but it certainly has a view that there are a number of functions or a number of features of the present system which are only marginally workable, and one of the most significant of those is the size of the executive.
Mr Speaker, I make no bones about the fact that I found an executive of four members to be an extreme strain on members of the ministry. I have no doubt that members of that ministry would agree with me, and I have no doubt that members of the present ministry will soon agree with me, if they don't already. It is not conducive to good government to put the weight of the territory's affairs on the shoulders of just four people.
Mr Speaker, I acknowledge that in general circumstances it is also very difficult for parties who form a government to enlarge their ministry, bearing in mind the present size of the Assembly and, in consequence, the present size of the government party. I think there is a very powerful reason why the Assembly should consider a different format, a different size.