Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 2931 ..
MR QUINLAN (continuing):
A lot of our committees are three members. So we are heading to the point where any two of those can put on a meeting and any two of those can decide whether or not they will telephone the third member. I think we are now getting to the area where at least we need some considered examination of this. I agree with Mr Stefaniak that, on rare occasions where a member cannot be at a committee meeting and it is important that they be there and it is a matter of which way the committee goes, there needs to be some provision for that. But, if we are going to make it work, we need guidelines.
As the motion was initially presented on the notice paper, if it had prevailed during the last Assembly, the only days you would have seen Paul Osborne in this building would have been sitting days-maybe-because we would have an order that says, "I can't make it to work. Give me a call. Let me know, yes, I can't be bothered coming." So we actually need to go a little bit further and take a further step. So Mr Stefaniak has cobbled together his foreshadowed amendment, which says "only when face to face meetings are impossible". Now, that just does not make enough sense; that is nonsense, because now how do we define "impossible"? Well, for Paul Osborne it would have been, "I've got to mind the kids." So you would have had a committee meeting, telephone in the middle, on loudspeaker, kids running around in the background, as we heard on 2CN for the early morning interviews, every time. So if we are going to have a variation of the process, and if we want this thing to work and not fall into a shambles, then let us have some guidelines, and unfortunately the amendment that Mr Stefaniak puts forward does not make enough sense, because who decides "impossible"?
I refer to the example that I have previously given as to what is impossible. How far? In deep Tuggeranong? Queanbeyan? Goulburn? Sydney? On holidays? In America? Where? So, if we are going to try to set up an inclusive process, let us make it work. Let us make sure that we do not set up a system where two members on a committee can decide whether or not they bother to include the third member, because that is what this says.
So maybe we have a good idea here. But maybe it is a half-baked good idea. Let me say, with all due respect, Bill, that with the Stefaniak amendment it would still be just as much of a nonsense as it is now. I do not know what the urgency is for this to go through, Ms Tucker, but can we just refer it to a committee and ask, "Is there a way we can make this work that doesn't have, of itself, further problems?". So I do commend the Hargreaves amendment to the house, seriously.
MS DUNDAS (11.27): I rise on behalf of the ACT Democrats to support Ms Tucker's original motion and in that way stop it from going to a committee. I actually see no reason for us to reinvent the wheel. It was nice to hear from Mr Quinlan that it is not just new members who may not fully comprehend standing orders. It was Mr Hargreaves who made the point that maybe new members do not fully understand how standing orders operate, and maybe standing orders do need a review. But, as a new member, with what I believe is a working understanding of the standing orders, I agree that there are some areas where they are unwieldy. And I actually recall an ALP election commitment to look at standing orders-to find out where the flaws are, to see how we can fix them-but the first we hear of it is in response to a motion being moved by Ms Tucker that will bring us into line with the practice that currently exists in the Senate and in the House of Representatives.