Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 6 March 2008) . . Page.. 602 ..
at some things but she had taken an interest; she recognised that a lot of work had been done.
So my first comment would be that I think that this has been a failed effort in terms of engaging all members of the Assembly. On something as serious as this, I do agree with Mrs Dunne: these are very, very critical matters and it should have been achieved. It has not been achieved, and that is a cause for some reflection on the approach taken. When you have been around politics for a long time, as I have had the fortune or misfortune, you realise that the best way to get something through is to throw it through as an entire package and that way it makes it a lot harder to change it. If that cynical motive was in the mind of whoever drove this, then I think that it has been badly handled.
I would have liked this to have been dealt with clause by clause, or grouped clauses by clauses, as you would with a bill. If people were concerned about a particular clause, you would stop at that point. But the process that has been adopted this time of relying on a committee system where the committee membership for part of this chamber has been in a constant state of disarray and flux I think meant that the input was not there, that the entire membership of the Assembly was not engaged.
The problem is that under a party system one tends to rely on either a shadow minister on policy areas or a committee representative on matters of administration. When you have a permanent, constant turnover of people in that committee position, you lose continuity of discussion and the end effect is what we are seeing today.
I think this is a very disappointing day for democracy in the ACT. I think it has been handled badly. There are a range of issues in here that I could take issue with but I have a very limited opportunity to speak today. I do not think it has been well handled. I would give it a D-minus in terms of the way this whole exercise has been conducted, but I also accept that there are factors that were beyond the control of the administration committee.
MR BERRY (Ginninderra) (12.05): This process was set up in the vain hope that it might result in a smooth passage for a change in the standing orders of this Assembly. Let us understand, though, that changes to the standing orders in this Assembly are not going to be a particular feather in the cap of people who want to get elected to this Assembly. I am somewhat surprised at the political agitation which has accompanied today’s debate in relation to these matters.
But the process which I insisted upon was to engage with everybody who wished to be engaged in the course of the proceedings conducted by the committee. It followed on from a review of the standing orders conducted in the Fifth Assembly. It was pretty clear then that it was difficult to engage members to be involved in the process; that is, until we get to debate the recommendations before the Assembly. I am never surprised at the heat of debates which occur in this Assembly, though sometimes it would seem to me that there are probably other more politically interesting things that might be pursued than this matter, notwithstanding the importance of finely tuned standing orders to this Assembly.