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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 2923 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

Mr Speaker, this bill acknowledges that participation in some activities carries risk; indeed, some are actually quite dangerous. However, we should also recognise that no-one is forced to participate in such activities and that operators who are approved under this scheme deserve to be protected. As with other elements of my reform package, this bill will reduce premiums as it imposes regulations inserted on an area that currently has none. Mr Speaker, I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Quinlan ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Committees-deliberative meetings

MS TUCKER (10.52): I move:

That the following temporary order be adopted:

230A Deliberative Meetings by Electronic Communications

A committee may resolve to conduct deliberative meetings by electronic communications without the members of the committee being present in one place, provided that:

(a) when a committee deliberates, members of the committee constituting a quorum are able to speak to, and hear, each other comtemporaneously; and

(b) the Presiding Member of such a meeting takes care to ensure that a quorum is maintained during the meeting and that the standing orders and rules of the Assembly are observed.

This motion basically tries to facilitate committee work where a member is unavoidably unable to attend. There is the potential for a committee to make its own decision regarding whether or not, in a deliberative meeting, it thinks that such a meeting needs to occur because of the timeframe of the committee's work, and that it would be reasonable to actually have a conference call basically to have that deliberation.

This motion has come from the relevant Senate standing orders. This is not a particularly controversial standing order. It has been tried and tested as a procedure in the Senate. No problems have been found with it. It allows committees to conduct their business if members are unavailable for unavoidable reasons. It is particularly important for a small Assembly, such as this, where committees are small-and we have a really good record in terms of our capacity and commitment to work with consensus. We do not have, in this Assembly, a situation where it is basically a numbers game. As members who have looked at different committee structures around Australia and around the Commonwealth will know, it is actually quite unusual, and our committee system stands out as particularly good and progressive in that we do attempt to find consensus. Therefore it is important in deliberative meetings that we have that opportunity for discussion which will enable consensus. This particular standing order is intended to enable that to occur without delaying the process of the committee.

Because in my experience in this Assembly, since 1995, there has always been a commitment to work in that way with these committees, and there is a lot of respect for the work of and integrity of committees, this motion should get support. I understand some people are concerned that in some way we need to have more guidelines to support this. To me, that suggests that committees are not going to make a decision to use this

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