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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 2930 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

put on record that I would hope that that would continue because I think it makes for a much more rigorous and a much better system, a system that can actually have some rigour in terms of assessing issues and not just be a siphon for a certain point of view which a government at the time might have. I think this is all the more reason to ensure that the very best aspects of our committee system continue, and I think those aspects are invariably better served by having everyone present face to face when members are deliberating and coming up with final reports and making crucial decisions there.

So I do not necessarily think we need to send this off to the Administration and Procedure Committee; it was briefly mentioned there yesterday. This is something that, if my amendment gets up, we will monitor very carefully. I certainly hope it would be rarely used. If there is any instance of this provision being abused or mistreated, or perhaps committees going down the path of using this when really they shouldn't, I think we would take the view that this temporary order can be dispensed with.

I certainly hope that would not be the case. I assume that it will not be. I also note that this is not binding on every committee. What this does say is that a committee may resolve to conduct deliberative meetings. It is up to each individual committee. So even were this motion to get up-and the only way it is going to get up is if people support the Liberal Party amendment, because otherwise we are not voting for it-it is still up to every individual committee. And it may well be that in some committees the majority might think, "No, stuff it. That's not going to happen. You're going to have to be here. If you're not here, tough luck," and a majority of members said, "Yes, that's fair enough."

So it is, at the end of the day, up to each individual committee. Nevertheless, there could be, maybe on incredibly rare occasions, a time when this may actually be of assistance to the committee, and we are at least prepared to see if that is the case and give it a go in an incredibly restricted form. But we are looking at it very, very carefully. I will speak a little bit further to my amendment, but I have largely spoken to that at this stage, and we will support the motion only if our amendment gets up.

MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming and Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Corrections) (11.22): I think this debate swings on what is acting in good faith and what is contained within standing orders. I think it is fair to say that most members in this place do not know chapter and verse of the standing orders. Standing orders are the default option, the fallback option. Like most of the laws of this land, they are there for a few occasions and most people are ignorant of them. So they need to be a genuine fallback option.

Now, what Mr Hargreaves' amendment sets out to do is to set some guidelines, fallback options-options when there is the possibility of dispute. I have just had a quick thumb through the standing orders, and I cannot find an order that says how you control the scheduling of meetings of a committee. So who actually gets to say when a meeting is on and when it is not? I think most of what Mr Stefaniak said in support of the foreshadowing of his amendment virtually was an argument in support of what Mr Hargreaves has put forward.

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