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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 2933 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

Secondly, I have a concern about the perception of how this place conducts its business. In a city where people expect their members to come to this place to do their business, and to be seen to be doing their business-either in this chamber or in public hearings-I am concerned about a provision of the standing orders that allows members to potentially not have to come to the Assembly to do their work, to not be in the city to do that. And I think we have to be cautious about a change to that situation.

I think it is only reasonable, if one party in this place has a significant concern with the operation of this proposal, that it be considered by the forum this Assembly has established to consider such issues. As a matter of process, as a matter of considering these issues in a deliberative, reasonable and considered way, I think it is only reasonable to ask the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure to look at the appropriateness of this measure.

That is all the Labor Party, the government, is asking-that the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure, the committee we have established to look at the operation of our standing orders, look at this proposed change to our standing orders. And, as a matter of process, with what we believe is a change which could have significantly negative connotations unless it is handled appropriately, it should be referred to the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure for inquiry and report.

I just do not believe that we face the same issues that other parliaments face in terms of geographic isolation. Indeed, of all the parliaments in Australia, with perhaps the exception of the Norfolk Island Assembly, we do not have an issue about geographic isolation in the same way that other parliaments do.

Equally, I think we do have to debate the issues between when a member is not able to attend and when they, through their own volition, choose not to be present. If a member chooses not to be present because they prefer to travel, then that is a different matter from being not able to be in a committee meeting, and I think that distinction has to be made. If you choose to travel, if you choose to undertake certain responsibilities that take you outside the Assembly, you should take those matters into account, in terms of what that means and the responsibilities as a committee member. But I think it is important to draw the distinction between discretionary activity and activity which is your responsibility as a member.

I think those issues need to be teased out and thought through. I do not believe Ms Tucker's proposal as it is currently presented does that, and I would much rather that we had the deliberative process of the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure to look at those issues.

MR SMYTH (11.36): Mr Speaker, the irony of this debate is that there is no standing order that says you cannot hold a deliberative meeting by telecommunications. If this motion was not on the notice paper, I could still hold, as the chair of a committee, a deliberative meeting. There is nothing standing in they way of my doing that, and part of the reason that we debate this today is that I, in fact, asked the secretary of my committee to arrange such a facility to be available to my committee so that we could allow all members to participate fully in the activity of the committee.

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