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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 129 ..

MS TUCKER (12.01): I wish to speak to Ms Dundas' amendment. I do not think the amendment would serve a useful purpose because the reality is that we cannot do this at all without the federal government being involved. All I am saying is that we need to undertake discussions. It is critical that we do this if we want to seriously look at this issue.

Ms Dundas is concerned that somehow power could be devolved in a way that could be of concern. Of course, that is obviously what the discussion with the federal government would be about. There has always been the notion of entrenchment, and I have always suggested that that would be a way of dealing with that concern. The entrenchment notion obviously means that you just cannot have a majority of a parliament making such a decision.

There are other ways that the federal government can do this. The federal government itself can change the number just by regulation. So there are ways that it can be dealt with. But the reality is we cannot do it without having a discussion with the federal government. So in my view it is not sensible to remove that.

I certainly understand Ms Dundas' concerns, but I would like to reassure her that that is obviously part of the discussion. It is something that is raised whenever we have this discussion about increasing the number of members and how you ensure that this is not manipulated in some way to serve the political interests of a given group.

We have already had that discussion in the last Assembly where there was an attempt to change the election date through a loophole, which was basically manipulation for political purposes. So I certainly understand where Ms Dundas is coming from but I think she is incorrect at this juncture to think that the solution is to remove the paragraph, because it is fundamental.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Hargreaves, you will be speaking to Ms Dundas' amendment, won't you?

MR HARGREAVES (12.04): Got it in one, Mr Speaker. I just want to indicate to the Assembly that the government will not be supporting this amendment. We do have a lot of sympathy for the position that Ms Dundas has in terms of her fear that we will end up being able to do whatever we like in the future and that there will be no review mechanism.

I want to reiterate the assurance that Ms Tucker just gave that we are entering into this process with some sense of integrity. But there is a reality, and that is that at the moment we cannot do anything without being in conflict with the self-government act. For us to be contemplating changes without at least bringing the federal government into the loop of those considerations would be nothing short of silly.

I think it would be a terrible thing if, for example, we were to receive the views of the community, synthesise them, come to the conclusion that there was a community desire to increase the number of members in the Assembly and change the electoral boundaries, and somebody then said, "You've done all that work and you've told us what you want but that's bad luck because the feds are not going to do it." It sounds to me to be

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