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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 13 Hansard (27 November) . . Page.. 4812 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

Mr Speaker, this is not an exercise of self-interest. My support for this concept goes hand in hand with my commitment to having a greater number of people in the Assembly to service the people of the ACT. I commend the bill to members and look forward to the vote.

MRS CROSS (12.23): The moving of this amendment to the Electoral Act is interesting. Both the government and the opposition have, in previous Assemblies in the mid-1990s, argued loudly against the idea of four-year terms. Members who are still here will probably remember their own words. It is interesting that they think the time has now come to support the idea. The prospect of a majority government is in the wind, according to this current government. It is something both major parties keep aiming at. The prospect of an unaccountable majority government for Canberra means, even more, that we need to be able to keep any government on their toes, with the electorate able to have a say every three years.

I will not support this amendment to the Electoral Act, as I believe it is an abrogation of our responsibilities to the people of Canberra. In this situation it is no good saying that we should be the same as other jurisdictions. It is interesting that Queensland does not have four-year terms. Like Queensland, we do not have an upper house to offer a final check on legislation and keep tabs on the government's behaviour. Over the past 15 years we have had an effective crossbench which has provided scrutiny and kept the checks on accountability. The prospect of a majority government means open slather for the governing party.

Mr Speaker, I understand that this is the ideal, the dream, for these parties-your own included. However, we are talking about providing the very best democratic representation for the people of Canberra, not the best buzz for a party and its members. I would urge that members not support this bill. However, I can count and am aware of the realities.

I find it interesting that Mr Hargreaves makes reference to the chamber of commerce as if it is the font of all wisdom. I look forward to the comments he makes about that organisation for the next bill that is coming up for debate. Any good marketer could even market you as fairy floss, Mr Speaker. It is not that you look like fairy floss, but a good marketer can package someone in any way. They can sell an idea this way or that way. I urge that members not support this bill but, as I said, I can count and am aware of the realities. I will not be supporting the bill but I thank you for listening.

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Environment and Minister for Community Affairs) (12.26), in reply: I think the argument has been well made out in the speech I made upon presentation of this bill. I set out a whole range of reasons why I felt it was appropriate and timely for the ACT to move to fixed four-year terms. This democratic institution-this Assembly-here within the ACT has matured well over the last 14 years. Over that period of time we have had three-year fixed terms.

On the basis of that experience it is certainly the view of both the Labor Party and the Liberal Party in this place that there are very good reasons for moving from three-year fixed to four-year fixed terms in respect of the quality of governance that is delivered, the quality of the operations of this place, the capacity for governments to view issues in the longer term, and even the issues in the budget cycle. Everybody who has served in

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