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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 2929 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

Hook-ups aren't bad. I have been in quite a few as a minister, and certainly it is an effective way of doing business, but it is far better if you can do it face to face. You can see how the person is reacting, you can have a better interchange than just doing it down a telephone line, and I think it gives greater weight to what you are actually looking at.

It is also something that this Assembly has shown itself capable of doing during the 13 years or so that we have been actually operating. Yes, members-especially backbench government members and crossbenchers-often are on a number of committees. And yes, you do have to juggle, and yes, you do have other duties. Ms Tucker now has some extra-parliamentary duties. A number of other people have events that just occur which make it impossible for them to necessarily attend all committee meetings, but we manage to juggle that around.

Mr Hargreaves mentioned the Legal Affairs Committee. We went to great lengths to ensure that we filled in with both Mr Hargreaves' schedule when he represented the Assembly in London in May and Ms Tucker's busy schedule when she was away, and we still managed to come up with deliberative meetings to finalise two very difficult reports, one into the size of the Assembly and one into fireworks-and do it on time.

It wasn't easy, because we are three very, very busy people, but we did manage to do that. Mr Hargreaves has mentioned another situation that occurred in July. I think almost invariably we will be able to have face-to-face meetings, and I would strongly urge all committees to go down that path because that is far preferable, I think.

There is another factor too. I think Mr Hargreaves is right to mention the question of cost. Telephone hook-ups are in fact quite expensive. I have often dreaded to think how much some of the hook-ups would cost in terms of Telstra fees when you contact people right throughout Australia in some of the hook-ups I was involved in as a minister. Luckily, they would ring me, so I don't know if it cost us much, but I think someone might have been paying pretty big dollars there.

So we would be looking very closely at the issue of cost, because I think that is a relevant factor and, again, that has a real bearing in terms of people being encouraged to actually do face-to-face meetings where at all possible-and that is certainly something we should all aim at.

As I said, we are getting a fair amount of history behind us in terms of our committee operations. I think our committees are very good bodies, the governments of all persuasions seem to take the recommendations reasonably seriously and in many instances they are adopted-and that has been true whoever is the government. I think probably the nature of this place has a lot to do with the fact that there are minority governments, and governments perhaps feel they really do need to do that. Nevertheless, it is a fact that our committee structure is an excellent one. I have talked to a number of people from other jurisdictions and they are very envious of how well our committee system works.

They are amazed that the government members do not have all the chairs and that they are actually shared around and always have been. Again, that might be because of the minority nature of this place but, even if there ever was a majority government, let me

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