Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 8 Hansard (27 June) . . Page.. 2315 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

We are not necessarily opposed to it. But I was not happy to support this recommendation, because I do not think it was adequately considered by this inquiry, which was focused on the size of the Assembly.

The issue of the term of the Assembly was not raised in the public debate that led to the inquiry, and submissions generally addressed only the number of members. The debate over the term of the Assembly raises broader issues, such as how to ensure government accountability to the Assembly and the community over a longer period, that were not examined by this inquiry. It is too simplistic to argue that the term of the Assembly should be extended as a way of covering the costs of additional members. This requires further debate.

I support 21 members as a reasonable increase, although it could be regarded as the minimum increase required, and I am not opposed to 23. There are certainly arguments for 23. However, I make it quite clear that the Greens would not support Mr Hargreaves' proposal for how that should be arranged. We think it should be based on two electorates of seven members and one electorate of nine members.

This would provide long-term stability in the boundaries of the electorates, it would allow the electorates to match the ACT's federal electorates if these were expanded to three, and it would allow the Assembly to expand in an orderly manner in the future to 25 (two electorates of nine members and one of seven members) or 27 (three electorates of nine members).

A seven or nine-member electorate would return a range of members more proportional to voting intentions than a five-member electorate. While the electorates would still not return equal numbers of members, the reduced difference between the quotas of a seven-member electorate and a nine-member electorate would be an improvement on the current quota differential between five and seven-member electorates.

Mr Hargreaves' proposal-or Labor's proposal, as it may be-is quite concerning. Six-member electorates would be quite a problem, and they contrary to the entrenched provisions of the Hare-Clark system. With an even number, you could easily end up with an even number of Labor and Liberals. So there would be more chance of a hung parliament, with only one member on the crossbench. I would have thought from the statements they have made in the past that even the major parties would not think this was good for democracy.

I listened to Mr Hargreaves' argument about diversity. He is quite sure that diversity can occur satisfactorily within the major party structures. Labor says they want majority government. I am not arguing with that. They have the right to take that position. But to argue that there is enough diversity within the major parties for the community to feel satisfied that democracy can be served is to draw a longbow. The votes are pretty clear. We do not see diversity in votes in this place within Labor or within Liberal.

Mr Hargreaves argued that he does not want the parliament to be at the mercy of the executive. He wants more backbenchers so there is less power in the executive. This would not satisfy democracy, because it is a closed process. We have no idea what goes on behind the scenes between backbenchers and the executive of the day. In the view of

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .