Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 2936 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
happen. If people think it is being abused in some way, then certainly refer it to the Administration and Procedure Committee and put the arguments up then.
MR STEFANIAK (11.44): Mr Speaker, I move this amendment to the motion:
After the word "place," insert "only when face to face meetings are impossible,".
I am not going to go over old ground. I think this amendment is actually quite clear and it is a very strict amendment because it actually ensures that a committee may resolve to conduct these deliberative meetings by electronic means only when face-to-face meetings are impossible. "Impossible" is a pretty strict test. In terms of abuses of committee processes, as Mr Quinlan rightly points out, if members simply do not want to come in because they want to look after their kids or go fishing and want to do it by phone from there, or because they have something better on somewhere else in the region, that would not be a proper excuse.
I could think of very few instances where it would be impossible. One thing came to mind when I was listening to the dulcet tones of Mr Quinlan opposite, and that was that if a committee member was in bed in hospital stricken with some contagious disease, which meant you could not go to them, but you needed to get a report out, quite clearly it is a circumstance totally beyond their control and the committee might be able to say, "Fair enough, they can add their two bobs worth. They can't come for the most valid of reasons. Let's do a quick hook-up."
I would envisage these situations as being incredibly rare, and that is why we are moving this particular amendment. And I think it does largely speak for itself. I notice a desire around the room for people to certainly monitor this and, indeed, maybe for further guidelines to be drawn up, and that is something that certainly can occur.
As I said earlier, our position is that, if this remotely looks like being abused, it can be revisited and this temporary order can be revoked. And, if people feel there is a need for the Administration and Procedure Committee to look at other guidelines, fine, so be it. But I do think the relevant protections will be in there with my amendment, in terms of at least seeing if this is something that committees may possibly, in incredibly rare situations, want to avail themselves of. And I hark back to what I said earlier: our preferred position is that people do it face to face. I think that is far better. It has worked very well in the past. But we are prepared to support the motion only if this amendment is supported. If this is voted out, we vote against the motion.
Amendment agreed to.
MS TUCKER(11.48): I will just wrap up. I just want to make one point. I cannot remember which speaker it was from Labor who said it, but I think you have to be a little bit careful if you are suggesting that in some way this is going to be for the crossbench-or perhaps a backbencher from the Labor Party, but it seems it is the crossbench that certainly has to be in the spotlight a bit here. If you look at the schedule of meetings of the Standing Committee on Legal Affairs from 10 May this year to 10 September, you