Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 125 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
Having said that, the question now before us is how we achieve proper consideration of what the appropriate size of the Assembly should be. That question, I think, is best resolved by the process that we use customarily in this place to determine issues where an element of community consultation needs to occur, and that is through the process of referral of a matter to an Assembly committee.
Yesterday we approved the creation of a standing committee which has charge of matters relating to governance in the ACT. We gave it authority or jurisdiction over that sort of issue, and today it would be appropriate to refer such a matter to that committee. So we believe that an inquiry of this kind is appropriate. We believe the time frame that is talked about is appropriate, and we will support that amendment.
A motion was moved by Ms Tucker in the last Assembly to similar effect as paragraph (1) of the present motion-indeed, it was basically what is in Ms Tucker's motion. I should indicate to the Assembly that there were discussions between the then ACT government and the Commonwealth government about the power to enlarge the Assembly being devolved to the ACT parliament, the ACT Assembly. My recollection of the response to those representations to the federal government was that they were not especially cooperative and sympathetic. But I have to say at the same time that I doubt they would oppose this Assembly having the power over its own composition and so on.
Certainly, Mr Speaker, I will indicate to the government at this point in time that the opposition is fully prepared to offer its support privately or publicly to the government in its endeavours to patriate to the ACT Assembly the power to determine the appropriate size and composition of the Assembly.
The second issue in the amendment is the question of referral to a committee. Mr Hargreaves made the point that a number of options could be explored. He mentioned, perhaps slightly mischievously, the idea of 25 single-member electorates. I simply note, Mr Speaker, that the decision that was made at the referendum in 1995 to entrench certain features of the electoral system means that it will not be possible for this Assembly by itself to have single-member electorates at all or to have multi-member electorates of, I think on recollection, fewer than five members.
So some options are not available to us, except through the process of a referendum. But I note that in passing. I think there are a number of issues that we need to explore, and the means of being able to do so is provided by the standing committee referenced in Mr Hargreaves' amendment.
MS DUNDAS (11.47): I move the amendment circulated in my name to Mr Hargreaves' amendment:
Omit paragraph (1).
The reason I have moved my amendment to omit paragraph (1) of Mr Hargreaves' amendment-and this paragraph is the same as paragraph (1) of Ms Tucker's motion-is not that I do believe there does not need to be discussion on this issue. I do believe that discussion is warranted and that education is warranted, and I would like to see further public involvement in the debate on the size of this Assembly. However, I am