Page 38 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 27 November 2012
Finally, on the later start to question time, again, it is far from being something that is an endeavour to have an easier time of it. I note that the Liberal Party supported just such an amendment on more than one occasion during the last term in discussions in admin and procedures. This returns us to the situation that existed prior to the 2008 election. I know a number of members of the Liberal Party observed the difficulty that the 2 o’clock start provided in the sense of being able to attend community events during the lunch break. The 1½ hours did not allow them enough time to get out and attend community events. Actually, I have heard this comment from across the chamber and not just from the Liberal Party. This is actually quite a practical measure to allow people to do things during the lunch break, and so Mr Coe is demonstrating a conveniently short-term memory on this one. The Assembly will now continue into later in the day—I think this was the plan—and so this will not see a reduction in the sitting times as I understand the changes.
MR SESELJA (Brindabella—Leader of the Opposition) (11.04): I wish to make a couple of points. I am not sure about the last point that Mr Rattenbury was making. My understanding was that the Assembly would still be adjourning at 6 o’clock, which is the same time at which we have adjourned in the past. So there is no make-up of time. If he wants to move such an amendment, we would support it. What was put to us was that the finishing time would be the same. In fact it is still unclear as to whether we will have late sittings on a Wednesday. Our preference absolutely is that, yes, there should be late sittings on Wednesdays, as was the case in the last Assembly, lest there be a further limiting of the time of this Assembly.
As it stands, whether or not we have the shortening of the Wednesday sitting, with this agreement between the Labor and the Greens the first thing that they have done is to shorten the amount of sitting hours. Thirteen sitting weeks is at the very low end, I think, of the historical average, and it certainly is very low. To then have a longer lunch break, which effectively means several hours lost, or in fact several days lost, of sitting in real terms is something we disagree with.
It makes a mockery of the case of the Labor Party in going out there and saying, “We need more members.” They say, “We need more members in the Assembly; we need more ministers.” The first thing they do when they come into this new parliament is to lower the number of hours. How seriously can you take them when they are saying that they are only going to sit for 13 weeks a year and, by the way, they are going to sit for less hours every day and they are going to shorten the matters of public importance that are debated? We disagree with that wholeheartedly. It makes an absolute mockery of it. It will undermine their case for things like pairs, because they are saying that community events and the like should all be able to be handled outside the Assembly sitting hours because of the longer break times.
I make the final point that it completely makes a mockery of the government’s case for more members and for more ministers when they are saying they can actually get it done in less time than we have seen before—that the work of the Assembly can be done in less time, in 13 sitting weeks and while now having two hours for lunch.
We will not be supporting these amendments. We think it is the wrong way to go. I also support the words of Mr Coe in relation to the unworkability of the 24-hour