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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (23 October) . . Page.. 3984 ..



What is also interesting to me is that those people who oppose this, and those people who have proposed that we go to referendum, have not proposed any change to the legislation to remove the power that the Assembly has to extend its term. In none of the evidence that we have had has anybody suggested that we should change the legislation so that if we want to extend the term it should be by referendum. That is my memory of it; if anyone did suggest it, it would have been only one. The call for a referendum is a red herring and I reject it.

I commend this report. I will wind up by just noting Ms Tucker's dissenting report. I think it is terrific that she has put in a dissenting report; members should do so if they do not agree with the majority view. However, I think there is in it an overconcentration on the connection with the size of the electorates. I have read it twice-just to make sure I did not get it wrong the first time-and she is saying that there should be three electorates of seven people. My understanding is that she said that, if we had three electorates of seven people, we could have a four-year term and this place would be political paradise. I do not see the connection. We put the case for increasing the numbers last time. It could have happened but it did not. I think the two are disconnected. I would like to see both of them up; I think both arguments are valid. From my own perspective, I do not like the idea of three electorates of seven members, because I think that seven members are too many for one electorate. That is a choice. So I do not see that nexus; I think that is just possibly trying to advantage a political party. I do not blame Ms Tucker for doing that, but the best of British luck and Christmas presents to her for that one. [Extension of time granted].

I would like to congratulate our committee secretary for the work that went into producing this report. It is an excellent gathering together of information and I would also like to record appreciation to all of those people who did come forward and give evidence.


(11.01): It was interesting listening to the comments from my colleagues and I think Mr Stefaniak, and Mr Hargreaves to a degree, gave a reasonable summary of the arguments. I have dissented from the majority recommendations of this report, and the main arguments that I have put are that there does need to be a referendum and that I have a concern about this unless there is a change in the number of members in the Assembly, but more particularly the arrangement of electorates. Mr Hargreaves just challenged that and said that he did not think there was a connection. But on page 9 of the report you will see that the ACT government noted in its submission:

The possible perception that by extending the term of the Legislative Assembly there would be a reduction in the Assembly's accountability to the electorate is certainly diminished in the ACT by the fact that in the ACT there is little prospect of a single party holding an overall majority. Consequently, the government of the day would continue to be accountable to the Assembly and is dependent upon the support of either the cross bench or the Opposition.

So the ACT government itself has put that argument up. The point that I am making is that I agree that accountability of government to the electorate is certainly related not only to the length of term of office but to the electoral system. As we know, a government that has a majority is basically capable of doing what it likes in a parliament because these days there is such a strict party discipline imposed by the major parties,

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