Page 715 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 28 March 2006

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down to Lanyon on Sunday and I have to say that I was really quite blown away not only by the house and the setting but also by the incredible enthusiasm and feeling that the people who work there have for the place. Lanyon is, in a way, a small community and I prefer the small festival that we have there. I find these sorts of garden festivals more accessible than the great big mega events that often get a higher profile in this city.

Lanyon is, of course, a very beautiful house. One of the things that was of most interest to me was to talk to the gardener about what he has observed over the last few years in managing that garden. This year Lanyon experienced a huge grasshopper plague and, as anyone who has been through a grasshopper plague knows, anything green is a target. We talked about why that happened. It seems that as part of the natural cycle of this region a number of successive very cold below freezing days in winter kill the nematodes in the ground which, of course, develop into grasshoppers later on. In the past few years we have not been getting such conditions and it would seem that, along with drought, we will see this problem recur. Of course, if because of climate change the number of below freezing days that we have in a year continues to decline, we will see an increase in pests of this kind.

The gardener said it had just about broken his heart to see what had happened to his own personal garden around his cottage and other parts of Lanyon, and that he had almost felt like leaving. I do not think this is something that any of us want. It was good to see the irrigated section of the garden, which is a very magical place. But it is interesting to see that our little Lanyon is being affected by the impact of global climate change.

Marist College—drugs summit

Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference

MR SESELJA (Molonglo) (5.18): Mr Speaker, I was absent from the Assembly at the last sitting as I was attending the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference on the Westminster system. I will be reporting back formally to the Assembly but I thought I would take the opportunity to give a bit of feedback on my experience.

Firstly, it was an excellent learning experience for me as a new member. The content was quite detailed and excellent, and I will go through some of that content. There were sessions on the role of the leader of the house, whips and party discipline, the role of the Speaker, legislative process, parliamentary questions and motions. We discussed sustainable development and issues around the role of think tanks in a parliamentary system. Delegates exchanged views on issues that were raised. Some of those issues included the role of the WTO, combating HIV/AIDS and the role of an upper house. The content of the conference was quite excellent and I commended the CPA on the well thought out program that they put together for us.

While at the conference I reflected on the Westminster system of government. I have had discussions with Mr Hargreaves, who attended the previous conference. We often talk about the Westminster tradition being this or the Westminster tradition being that but really what was quite apparent was that all of the Westminster parliaments and all the commonwealth parliaments have gone a slightly different way. In fact, even the British House of Commons and the House of Lords have changed quite a bit over the years in the way that they do things. So I guess when someone says, “Well, this is the way it is

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