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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 8 Hansard (27 June) . . Page.. 2313 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

shared between the two of them. In the last Assembly, when there were four members on the crossbench, the workload was still shared between two members of the crossbench. (Extension of time granted.)

I turn to executive governance. Currently we are permitted a maximum of five ministers, including the Chief Minister. In the current Assembly there are four ministers, allowing the government backbench to sit on a variety of committees. The Speaker is drawn from government ranks. If the membership of the Assembly is increased, it will allow the appointment of a fifth minister without detriment to the work of government backbenchers or diminution in their service to the parliamentary workings of the Assembly.

When in a small parliament the number of members in the executive is the same as or more than the number of members on the government backbench, the sheer numbers will mean that the executive is in total control of the government side of parliament, and if the government is in the majority, it will render the parliament irrelevant. If the government is governing with the assistance of a crossbench member, then predominantly the parliament will be at the mercy of the executive. In a small parliament with an executive of five, that will mean that six people will rule this territory, and the rest of the parliament will be irrelevant, except for barking around the edges.

With an executive of five, the non-executive membership of the government benches would need to be a minimum of six to work as a braking mechanism.

In trying to predict a make-up, it is necessary to understand that there must be an odd number of members in the Assembly. The current make-up is eight government, seven opposition and two crossbench. The executive has four members and the government backbench has four members.

With a 21-member Assembly, the government would take 10, maybe 9, seats and this would result, at best, in five executive members and five government backbench members, or a tied vote. Thus any motion to put a brake on the executive would be negatived.

Thus the minimum number for an Assembly, if the number of government backbenchers is to be greater than the number of the executive, would be 23. This is another time 23 pops up. This would provide a minimum government of 11 members. If the government of the day was one seat short of a majority-and Hare-Clark will almost always guarantee that-then the opposition and crossbench would fill the other 12 seats.

One formula which can assist in achieving this is that the executive not constitute more than 25 per cent of the parliament. I mentioned that earlier. Thus in a parliament of 17 the executive could be no more than four and in a 21, 23 or 25-member parliament the executive could be no more than five. In a move from 17 to 23 members there would be no need to change the executive. Any suggestion that we might have an eight-member executive is fanciful.

In conclusion, reasons for an increase in the number of members in the Legislative Assembly include growth in population. Nobody knows where the member-to-voter ration of 1:10,000 came from, but by convention it has been the norm for nearly

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