Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 01 Hansard (Tuesday, 7 December 2004) . . Page.. 110 ..
reversed! That certainly was not a terribly pleasant thing to do but that does happen on occasions and, yes, there is some real question as to how effective you can be at 2.30 in the morning when you are amending complex legislation.
I well recall the Crimes Act amendment in August 2001 where I think an amendment to an amendment to an amendment went off in a tangent. It certainly took me about five minutes to work out how on earth we could fix it up but, with the help of the Clerk and a few other people, we managed to. So, okay, that is a situation where, when you are doing complex stuff, tiredness can be a problem, and maybe that is something to look at. Maybe we would be better saying, ‘Let’s try to make sure we don’t go past, say, 11.00 pm or midnight.’
This rule, where we shut off proceedings at 6.00 pm, then have the adjournment debate and we are out of here at 6.30 pm, is great if you can do it but I think the practicalities of what this place is about—the legislation that you people want to bring in and the matters we are going to want to raise—simply means there will not be enough time. I do not think that extra three hours on Friday will be enough. You have got the numbers. You are going to get it through, but I certainly think you will be revisiting this one. The opposition will be opposing it.
MR QUINLAN (Molonglo—Treasurer and Minister for Economic Development) (5.18): Just very briefly, I recall, over the seven years I have been here, some very extended debates—particularly extended budget debates—but it seemed to me that the whole process was not all that effective. I think there is a need for members to reflect on the relevance of what they are doing rather than having queues of speakers wanting to get up and say the same thing over again. We have people wanting to get up and have a second go at the debate simply because they disagree with something, turning it into a “he said”, “she said” process.
We did fall, particularly in the last Assembly, into a very ill disciplined approach. I do not know what the motivation was, as it did not seem to achieve anything other than late night sittings and a waste of time. You can wax lyrical and beat your breast about the right to speak and say that everybody should have the opportunity, but there is a limit, and I think we crossed that line last time. There is a need to use the time, not just your time but also our time, effectively.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (5.19): I am glad Mr Quinlan has spoken and has said exactly what you would expect Mr Quinlan to say because, really, the only person whose opinion is valued in this place by Mr Quinlan is his own. It really is quite an inconvenience for Mr Quinlan to have to listen to the views of anybody else, and especially someone who would dare gainsay Mr Quinlan.
This proposal brought before us today by the manager of government business is again a part of the pattern of, “We’re now majority government so we can do what we like.” We had a discussion in the previous Assembly about reviewing the standing orders and about creating a more family friendly work environment, and we took particular pains in the last Assembly to try to create some certainty for the staff of the Legislative Assembly, both secretariat staff and our own staff, as to how we would sit and how long we would sit but, even with the best intentions of all of us, sometimes the timetabling falls out.