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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 8 Hansard (27 June) . . Page.. 2309 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

We have not put down how far we think future Assemblies should go. Canberra is mooted to go to a population of half a million. That might well mean that the ultimate size of the Assembly would be 25 or 27. We do not make any recommendations on that. The committee felt that further increases should be a matter for a future Assembly many years down the track. As the population of the territory increases in future decades, that is something a future Assembly will need to look at.

I thank our hard-working committee secretary, Rod Power. He did a lot of work, and very quickly, in getting both this report and the report on fireworks ready for tabling today. Rod has done a magnificent job in enabling us to report on time.

I thank my two committee colleagues for their contribution to the report. It is not a unanimous report. On such a difficult matter we probably could not have expected a unanimous report. But I thank my colleagues for their dedication to the task. I thank all who made submissions in writing and personally. I thank them for their assistance in this most important inquiry.

I commend the report to the Assembly.

MR HARGREAVES (10.44): Mr Speaker, I wish to dissent from only recommendation 3 contained in the Standing Committee on Legal Affairs report to the Assembly on the size of the Assembly. I cannot agree with the recommendation to increase the size of the Assembly to 21 members, and I will address arguments to support a recommendation to increase the size of the Assembly to 23 members.

The minimalist argument to increase the size of the Assembly to 21 members does not recognise the increase in the population of the ACT. It argues that the public will not support an increase above 21 members. This notion is rejected.

It is painfully obvious that members who support this minor increase do so with an ill-conceived intention to protect personal and party interests and have not addressed academic arguments for providing the Assembly with sufficient numbers to deliver proper representation, effective governance and sufficient members to carry the scrutiny role of committee work. Nor does it allow sufficient members to enable the committees to fulfil their role as a conduit between the community and the executive government and the parliament.

The support of a 21-member chamber is short-sighted in terms of the proportional representational model.

Clearly, a 23-member chamber constituted by seven members from each of two electorates and nine members from a third electorate would provide a greater chance of proportionality than would a system of three electorates of seven members.

The model of a 23-member parliament comprising six members from each of three electorates and five members from a fourth electorate would allow a better convergence of community interest and the one vote, one value principle. The Electoral Commissioner agreed with this concept in his evidence.

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