Page 269 - Week 01 - Thursday, 29 November 2012

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motions that are moved in this place, the MPIs, the questions that we ask, are all important mechanisms for supporting the community and working on behalf of the community to interrogate, to investigate and to hold this government to account.

I indicate that I support the words of Mr Coe that this is a curtailing of the opposition’s ability to perform its role as an opposition. I think that that is the motive of this government, and I think that is disappointing.

MR SESELJA (Brindabella—Leader of the Opposition) (10.56): I rise to do a couple of things. One is to endorse what Mr Coe and Mr Hanson have had to say. We certainly do believe that 13 weeks is not enough, particularly given the indications from the government that we will not be sitting late now on Wednesdays. So effectively, on this sitting calendar, with 13 sitting weeks, with longer lunches and with no late sittings on Wednesday, we have significantly less sitting hours than we have had in the past. It seems to be a deliberate strategy from this government. I think that we can read into that that they are trying to avoid scrutiny at every turn.

We have two or three particularly important roles as members of the Assembly—to serve our community, to be out there and be hearing from our community, developing policies, but being in this chamber is one of the critical duties of elected representatives. And to do it for only 39 days a year from 10 until 6, with a two-hour lunch break, we think is pretty thin when it comes to the ability to really debate some of the issues of the day.

As others have noted, we do not have the logistical issues of convening a parliament that, say, Queensland or Western Australia have in bringing people from a long way away. It is not a burden for people to get to parliament here in the ACT. Everyone lives within 20 minutes or so of this place. So it is not a big deal for us to come here. We believe that 39 sitting days out of 365 for six hours of sitting now is simply not enough.

I have circulated—I think it has been circulated or it is about to be circulated—an amendment to Mr Corbell’s motion. It is a simple one. It would simply add a couple of weeks to the sitting calendar and, we think, restore it to a more reasonable amount. That would be 24, 25 and 26 September and 19, 20 and 21 November, which would be added.

I move the amendment that has been circulated in my name:

That the following days be added to the 2013 sitting calendar:

September 24 25 26

November 19 20 21

I commend that amendment to members. It would simply add two weeks. It would not be a major burden for the Assembly to sit for 15 weeks, to take it up to 45 sitting days out of 365. That is 45 sitting days from 10 until 6 with a two-hour lunch break. That is not a great burden.

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