Page 716 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 28 March 2006

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done, this is the Westminster tradition,” we have to take that with a grain of salt because these things do change over time, even in mother England.

The other message that I got very strongly was that the Australian system—in particular I am thinking of the federal system of government with two houses, including an elected upper house that represents the states—really stacks up well against all of the other systems around the world. I think in the UK they are now having significant problems in trying to reform an unelected House of Lords. There are problems with cash for peerage and the inherited spots are now down to 92 out of 700. But I think the Australian system really does stack up. Even Canada still maintains an appointed upper house. So as a democratic system, for all its flaws, I think the Australian system is a very good one. It is one that stands up against other parliaments around the world.

Another thing that struck me was the lavishness of some of the other parliaments. It seemed that everyone had an official residence in Westminster. Mr Speaker, I have already shown you the guide to the Speaker’s house. The Speaker of the House of Commons gets quite a lovely, lavish house. One is for show and I think he gets another one where he actually lives. He also gets lovely robes, which I am sure, Mr Speaker, everyone would love to see you in one day. Maybe when we have been around for several hundred years we will have such detailed traditions. Speaking of lavishness, in other parliaments around the world opposition leaders get houses and all that sort of thing, so I think Australia once again stacks up quite well in this respect.

The independence of the Speaker was interesting, too. Speakers in the House of Commons cannot any longer belong to a political party once they take that office, and in fact never again can they belong to a political party. So they are independent once they become Speaker. Whilst such a system probably could not be replicated in the ACT, certainly the Australian parliament could learn something from that.

I have to commend the professionalism of the CPA staff. They really looked after us well. The program was excellent, as was their organisation. They mixed in a number of enjoyable events with a fairly detailed program and I found that a very good experience.

The other thing that I found particularly good was talking to other delegates from around the world, including members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. I was able to exchange ideas about our systems of government and learn a lot about not only the British system but also systems all around the world—Canada, New Zealand, Malaysia, India, parts of Africa and the Caribbean. I would be happy to give briefings to any members of my experiences at the conference. I will be lodging a formal report but I wanted to take this opportunity to put on record some of the experiences that I had while attending the Westminster conference.

Arts—Hori Alone in Kolkata

MS MacDONALD (Brindabella) (5.23): Mr Speaker, last week I was fortunate enough to be able to represent the Chief Minister, in his capacity as minister for the arts, at the premiere—and I have to say it is the first time that I have been to a film premiere—of the film Hori Alone in Kolkata, which was screened at the Tuggeranong Arts Centre from 23 to 26 March. Hori Alone in Kolkata was the debut feature film of Canberra director, Ms Paramita Roy. The film, which runs for approximately an hour, tells the story of

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