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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (12 November) . . Page.. 7 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

governments have had to deal with a parliament in which they did not control the numbers. Too often this has led to the practices and traditions of Westminster being compromised; to a blurring of the necessary distinction between executive and legislature; to the requirements of cabinet government and the demands of ministerial responsibility, that are a fundamental characteristic of the system, not being met.

Labor does not accept that the reality of Hare-Clark means the Westminster practices and traditions have to be eroded. We will not compromise on our commitment to open an accountable government. We will negotiate with other parties in the Assembly. We will be responsive to the community. We will deliver good government.

Mr Speaker, Labor is strongly committed to self-government and is proud of the work of this Assembly. I am proud to be a member of this Assembly. I do not blush to admit that this is where I work. I believe it is incumbent on each of us to promote the work of our parliament and to help dispel the lingering doubts about self-government and the place of this Assembly in the life of Canberra.

There has already been some community debate about the appropriate size of the Assembly, the number of MLAs and how they might best be distributed in electorates. Labor understands the arguments for and against any increase, but the fundamental fact remains that we are a population of over 300,000 governed by a parliament of 17. The size of the Assembly puts strain on the operations of the Assembly and on government. Labor wants the debate to continue.

There will come a time-perhaps it has arrived-when the size of Canberra warrants an increase in the number of electorates and members, and when this is understood by the community. Only if the debate continues in an open and responsible manner will the community be able to determine that the time has come.

Mr Speaker, I have said before that in my view government is not a business. Government is not about profit making. Ministers are not directors of the board. There is a broad public interest that must be at the heart of everything governments undertake, a public interest that insists on government being fair, honest, open and responsible. These are part of Labor's core values-fairness, openness, honesty and responsibility. And they are the qualities that will characterise the Stanhope Labor government as we move to implement the plan for Canberra that was endorsed by the electorate.

Last, but perhaps most importantly, Mr Speaker, I acknowledge not only my family and the support I have received from them, but the families of all members of the Assembly. Our wives, husbands, partners, children and families are the most unsung and under-recognised participants in politics and the electoral system. They play a role and pay a price that cannot be gainsaid. They are there during the good times to share the successes and moments of achievement, but it is the other times we forget-the disappointments, the defeats and the unnecessary and unattractive side of political life; the public lashings, the gratuitous insults, the malicious cuts and slights, often from an unthinking, complacent and self-indulgent media. On our behalf, our families pay a price and bear a pain that should not be asked of them.

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