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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1698 ..

MRS BURKE (continuing):

I attended only six meetings in total, of which three were public and three were private. Naturally, with the draft report already at an advanced stage by this time, I had little quality time within which to properly consider all the material already before the committee-both submissions and public hearing transcripts.

Due to the last minute change in the handing over of the baton and a subsequent misunderstanding on my part, I gave my imprimatur to the report as a whole. I will not dwell on this matter, however, because I believe there were extenuating circumstances surrounding my personal situation at this time. Indeed, I am sure most of us in this place have been given the grace to make one or two mistakes in our time.

Although I have already done so privately, I must now publicly apologise to the committee's chair, Kerrie Tucker-I value your guidance, Kerrie, for the future, and I thank you for that-and to the deputy chair, Karin MacDonald, who have genuinely sought to produce a report of high standard offering important material on this critical area of public policy, for the misgivings I now feel concerning several aspects of the report. Perhaps the feedback I have received, not only from my Assembly colleagues but from beyond the Assembly, will only enhance our mutual interest in seeing this Assembly properly further address and debate many of the issues and ideas proposed in the report and its recommendations.

This report makes-and I will stand corrected, possibly-67 individual recommendations set out in 48 different subject areas. While there are several recommendations to which I give my unequivocal support and there is a significant portion of the package to which I give my general support, at the same time there is a smaller group of recommendations about which I am less sure. Ms Tucker referred to those as the more contentious issues contained therein. There is another, even smaller, group that I am definitely opposed to. I would be very surprised, and even alarmed, if I was alone in this Assembly in holding a personal position on a report that covers such a broad range of public policy issues.

I, too, would like to add to Ms MacDonald's statement about the work of the secretariat. They are never to be undervalued in any of these things, and we know how hard they worked. I am sure the secretary is having a wonderful time.

It is my view that it is only now, upon the tabling of this report and other non-committee members being given an opportunity to digest its contents, that we can responsibly move forward. This is what we need to do: move forward to the future. This, I should stress, is a view I hold in relation to all committee work in this place, whether it is the work of a committee on which I have sat or not-or, as is the case here, on which I have only sat late.

Perhaps it is also timely that I suggest that MLAs give serious consideration to seeking access to the volume of written submissions, no less than 32 of them, or at least the ones that are of specific interest to them. These people put in inordinate amounts of time, and it is very important to our general community that they feel esteemed and valued in the work that they do. We shouldn't take that lightly or ever take it for granted.

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