Page 603 - Week 02 - Thursday, 6 March 2008

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My plan from the beginning was to have an honourable process in place to engage with all members and come forward with a set of recommendations which were broadly accepted by the Assembly. I note there are only a small number of amendments that have been proposed, when considered against the entirety of the report. My view about it is that I was part of a process, which was an honourable one, to ensure that we had a full and adequate examination of all the issues and I would dishonour the process were I now to support amendments to the report which has been developed with the best intent by members, various, on the administration and procedure committee.

I will oppose the amendment. I think it is the wrong time to be proposing one. There are a couple of reasons. The first is that it is important to get these standing orders in place before the end of this Assembly, otherwise examination of the matter will suffer the same fate as it has suffered in two assemblies. So it is important to get the matter resolved. I think the next Assembly will develop some new ideas about how it wants to proceed, as has always been the case.

I note, in one part of the amendment, Mrs Dunne talks about new arrangements for the Assembly—and I have been here since 1989—so far as committees are concerned. Each Assembly, rightly so, settles itself around a uniquely constructed assembly committee process. I think, rather than go to the merits of all of these things that have been proposed, that sort of process ought to be followed, especially when we are so close to an election.

Whilst one could expect amendments in this place—they are the fare of this legislature—I think at this point we need to get on with the job and get these recommendations adopted so that we can proceed to the next election and the new Assembly and the members that will participate in this democracy from that point on.

MS MacDONALD (Brindabella) (12.09): I would like to start by saying that I endorse the comments just made by the Speaker. Although some of this has already been laid out, I would actually like to remind members in this place about these points.

This inquiry was started in June 2005, which is over 2½ years ago, and it follows on from the review of the standing orders by the Fifth Assembly’s admin and procedure committee. The Fifth Assembly did not have time to conclude its inquiry and presented a discussion paper which was then, as Dr Foskey has alluded to, placed in the hands of members of the Sixth Assembly. I understand from conversations with the Clerk that a comprehensive review has long been mooted but, until the Fifth Assembly started looking into it, there was just tinkering around the edges.

Mr Speaker, I make the point that if we keep putting it off to the next Assembly—and I think this would be your point as well—a comprehensive review of the standing orders will never occur. Standing orders and their review will never, ever grab the imagination of members. I do not dispute that.

I know that there were comments being slung my way about my not actually putting in a whole host of suggested changes to the standing orders. But I participated in that

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