Page 570 - Week 02 - Thursday, 14 February 2013
sentence—I do not see any limitation here and I imagine that members, whether it be in a ministerial capacity or as MLAs, will continue to participate in these activities, as we all do and have done for many years.
MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Health and Minister for Higher Education) (10.49): As members, we are the masters of the standing orders. So I think I will open my comments by being very clear that the issue we are debating here is about formally linking an institution, in this case the Assembly, with running a religious service.
Mr Hanson: That is not what the motion says.
MS GALLAGHER: That is what this motion does. Those opposite will choose to confuse and run interference that it is going to cause the sky to fall in and nobody will be able to attend anything or do anything in their role as members anymore. But this motion does one thing, and the one thing it does is stop this institution running a religious service of any particular faith. It does one thing. That is exactly what it does.
If you read the motion that has been moved, it says “That this Assembly” and then there are subsections to that motion. For every part of the motion, if you read it without those three words before it, you would think probably some of the interference that has been run could have some merit. But if you read it, it says:
That this Assembly … shall not in any way endorse or be affiliated with any ceremony that involves adherence or affiliation with any religious faith.
That does not prevent members from conducting their roles as members as they choose, as they have done in the past and as they will continue to do.
But I would just like to reflect on the history of this matter. The first I became aware of this was when I received a letter from Madam Speaker that was sent to other party leaders as well. It did not come from the leader of the Liberal Party. It came from the Speaker of the parliament, the presiding officer, to me and to Minister Rattenbury as parliamentary leader of the Greens, inviting me and my colleagues to attend a pre-arranged service which would follow a Christian liturgy at a time and place that had already been determined by Madam Speaker. The invitations that went out were from Madam Speaker. The invitations had the Assembly logo on them. The Assembly logo, from my understanding, can only be approved for use by the Speaker, the presiding officer of the Assembly. That is not an individual member conducting themselves in their role as an individual member. That is the presiding officer of this parliament hosting, running and organising a religious service.
It has not happened in the past. The Assembly as an institution, a young institution, a modern institution, has always maintained its secular characteristics. And I think, and my party thinks, that it is important that that secular history and tradition be maintained.
I would have preferred that we not have had to be debating this on the floor of the Assembly. Despite, I think, quite reasonable correspondence between the Speaker and