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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 127 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

I think the referral of this matter to the Legal Affairs Committee is a good way of ensuring a rigorous assessment of issues. It does allow consultation and it does allow for the provision of submissions around how we might proceed with a genuine debate and discussion about an appropriate size for the Assembly. And not just that. If we are to increase the numbers of members, it allows for consideration of the configuration that we might bring to bear.

I take the point that Mr Humphries made before, that the government is committed to Hare-Clark. There is no suggestion that we are not. An amendment such as this or our interest in seeing a debate on the numbers of members in no way detracts from our commitment to Hare-Clark as the system that has been adopted by the people of the ACT. We are very happy to work within the Hare-Clark system. I have always maintained that it is a difficult system, but we are getting used to it. I think we are getting better at it, and we are not suggesting that we walk away from that at all.

We want a debate about how many members of this place will deliver optimal government for the people of the territory. I am happy to be a part of that debate. I am happy to ensure, in relation to an inquiry of this nature, that the government will use its resources to provide detailed submissions to the committee on the issues around an increase in size, the configurations and the issues raised by Ms Tucker in her speech about this Assembly actually, if I might say, selling itself to the people of Canberra in perhaps a more vigorous way.

There is a range of issues around the standing and role of this particular institution in this community, and they are issues that I am quite keen to address. That is another debate, but perhaps there are things we can do just through this inquiry. It will have an educative and consciousness-raising effect and impact. There is a good reporting time. Plenty of time is given for the committee to report back to the Assembly, for the Assembly to debate the issues and for us to take whatever decision we may.

So I think this is a good initiative. I think an Assembly committee is the best way to go. We will support that. I think at this stage, though, I will need some convincing of the strength of Ms Dundas' amendment. But I support the amendment that my colleague has moved, and I urge its consideration by members of the Assembly.

MR CORNWELL (11.54): As a long-term supporter of an increase in the number of members of this Assembly, I certainly welcome the return of this motion to the Assembly. I think it would be fair to say that Ms Tucker and I might agree on the weather, and this is probably the other matter on which we share a common view.

Mr Corbell: I thought you had a few disagreements on the weather, actually.

MR CORNWELL: Mr Corbell, I will check the weather before I actually commit. Ms Tucker has listed the reasons why we need the extra members. We can go back to the Pettit review. It is not as if we are dealing with something that is unknown to this Assembly. I believe that the government of the day will rue the day we did not implement this increase in membership for this past election. But be that as it may. Let us hope that as this government experiences the stresses and strains with four ministers that Mr Humphries referred to, they will be converted to the idea, if they are not already, that we do need an increase in members.

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