Page 2178 - Week 06 - Monday, 11 May 2009

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This Assembly is strong on ensuring appropriate scrutiny of law, and some of the recently revised standing orders ensure that legislation cannot be easily rushed through. It is not just the members of the Assembly who should be trusted with that scrutiny. It is important that the processes and time available provide for wider input from civil society and from the oversight agencies of government itself.

Finally, I would like to draw attention to the three-cornered shape of the present Assembly. So many of the procedures and operations of our parliaments reflect the adversarial nature of oppositional politics. It is continually challenging for us here to organise the Assembly in a way that draws on the strengths of the three perspectives that the parties represent. And with always more than two sides to an issue, we owe it to our constituents to explore the range of possibilities available more thoroughly.

If we are as a society to face up to big issues and find some general agreement to profound change which, as the times suggest, we should, then this Assembly has the chance to break the mould even more in the next few years, to build in more consciously our civil society and our evolving media, and to make the debates over important decisions both accessible and meaningful.

The history of this Assembly is a proud one. The notion of a local and regional government makes more sense in many ways than those of the larger states. This recognises the exemplary work that has been, and is still being, done to make the ACT Assembly function responsibly and effectively, in support of the members and executive and in the interests of the Canberra community.

The challenge of democratic institutions is to remain stable and yet to be responsive enough to meet the aspirations and expectations of the changing ACT community. Those expectations include: the expectation that the parliament will be truly representative of all the people; the expectation that, as elected representatives of all residents of the ACT, we will work to heal any divisions in our society; in particular, the expectation that the voices of the disadvantaged will be heard; and the expectation that our natural environment will be protected and preserved for the future.

All of us who are privileged to hold public office, be it elected or appointed, owe a duty of trust to the present and future generations of residents of the ACT, and to put the pursuit of the common good above personal gain or ambition. I and my colleagues from the ACT Greens are honoured to be a part of this evolving Assembly which strives to connect meaningfully with the Canberra people while offering leadership in facing the challenges before us in order to secure a positive and sustainable future for the territory.

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Minister for Transport, Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Minister for the Arts and Heritage) (10.40), in reply: I thank my colleagues the Leader of the Opposition and the Parliamentary Convenor for the Greens for their contributions to the debate.

Motion agreed to.

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