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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 3333 ..

    MR WOOD (continuing):

    transparent, consistent and competitive rates of remuneration that will ensure that the territory is in a position to engage and retain the services of medical specialists, now and in the future;

    productivity and performance requirements; and

    value for money for the ACT Community.

The government's intention is that the engagement of VMOs should remain subject to a commercial, rather than industrial, framework under which VMOs are engaged as contractors, rather than employees. In significant respects, this policy scenario mirrors that which has been successfully maintained in New South Wales since 1993. With this amendment, negotiating agents can be recognised, negotiations can progress and an appropriate arbitrator can be appointed. I commend this bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Smyth ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Legal Affairs-Standing Committee

Proposed reference

MR HARGREAVES (10.57): I move:

That the ACT Legislative Assembly refer for inquiry the possibility of four year terms for members elected to the Legislative Assembly and that the Inquiry be conducted by the Standing Committee on Legal Affairs in accordance with the following terms of reference:

(1) The Standing Committee on Legal Affairs conduct an inquiry, for examination and report, into the matter of changing the term of office of Members of the ACT Legislative Assembly from three years to four years;

(2) The inquiry shall report to the Assembly by the last sitting day in October 2003.

I've moved this motion to enable the public consultation process to consider the proposal that the Legislative Assembly move to four-year terms of office. I believe there is some sympathy for the arguments in favour of such a move, but some in this place are concerned that community consultation has not been sufficient.

It's been hinted that perhaps a referendum ought to be conducted to gauge public opinion on the issue, but I would argue against that on a number of grounds. The first is that the cost would remove the first tranche of savings that such a move would generate. The savings for moving to four-year terms is $630,000 over a three-year election cycle. The cost of such a referendum, basing this on the cost of an election at $410,000, would be in the order of $200,000. This is a guesstimate on my part, but it must be agreed that such a referendum does not come cheaply.

The issue of four-year terms has been examined on a number of occasions in the past five years, the most notable being Professor Pettit's Review of Governance of the ACT in

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