Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 13 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 3901 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
If we acknowledge that standing order 221 is a valid and appropriate standing order to reflect the make-up of Assembly committees, then, by virtue of the moving of the amendment to this motion which has been foreshadowed by Mr Hargreaves, we do give Mrs Cross her choice with respect to two committees, but we force other members of those committees to make a decision about whether they wish to stay on those committees and defend the spirit of standing order 221. The letter of standing order 221 would be obviated by virtue of the amendment which has been proposed by Mr Hargreaves, but the spirit of it that we have proportionality, that we have one Liberal, one Labor and one crossbench member on each committee, is certainly being violated by virtue of the motion which has been moved as an alternative.
Obviously, the best thing to do would be to reach agreement, but we cannot reach agreement-at least, the crossbench members do not have agreement-as to what should be the composition of those committees. Failing that, given that this is a matter of allocation between the crossbenchers, we believe on this side of the chamber that it should be a matter of the crossbenchers deciding by a majority what ought to happen on those committees. If the majority of the crossbenchers have an arrangement in place which they believe is workable and they cannot get consensus, then we should reflect that decision in the decision that we make as a whole Assembly and we should not intervene in what should be an internal matter, if you like, for the crossbenchers, just as if there were disagreement on the part of members of my party as to which member should serve on a particular committee-
Mrs Dunne: Not that there ever was.
MR HUMPHRIES: Not that there ever was. In that instance, it should not be open to the Assembly to come in and say, "We will choose to put Mr X on instead of Mr Y because we think Mr X is right." The majority of members of the Liberal Party should decide that matter. No doubt, the same situation would apply in the Labor Party; if there were disagreement, the majority would decide and they would sort it out. That seems to me to be the best principle in these circumstances but, in effect, to come in and pick a side is not appropriate. Despite the fact that it does offend against the principle that we do not put people on committees that they do not want to be on, I think that Ms Dundas' motion is the preferable course of action.
If Mrs Cross is dissatisfied with that decision, I suppose she could resign from the committee. She could not be forced to stay on the committee if she did not wish to stay there. But it would be clear that she could not say, "I demand to be on this committee and I don't care if other members of the crossbench aren't prepared to accept my will in this matter. I want it and therefore I will have it." I do not think that that is the attitude that we should accept in respect of a matter like this, Mr Speaker.
MS TUCKER(11.56): I will be supporting this motion. I want to endorse everything that Ms Dundas said. I do not think I should go through all the arguments again. The extra comment that I would make is that, while those of us on the crossbench are not of the same political party, we have certain things in common; in particular, the workload. Mrs Cross is new to the crossbench and, obviously, has not been able yet to participate in the Legislative Assembly proceedings as a crossbench member, but I am assuming that she will fully participate, which will mean speaking to legislation and motions as they come up. The issue for the people on the crossbench is that as individuals we have to get