Page 4170 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 26 November 2013

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The other issue is the size of the Assembly. They are concurrent bodies of work. I indicate to the Assembly that the opposition is continuing to consider that. We have wanted to see some response from the government, some initiative from the government, that they understand that there are things that can be done here and now, in this Assembly, to make this place more effective before we necessarily go down the path of simply saying that the only response is to create a bigger Assembly.

I welcome this. It will help us with our deliberations about whether there is a need for a bigger Assembly. In conclusion, I welcome this initiative and I look forward to welcoming a new member of the executive in this place in due course.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (10.29): The Greens will be supporting this bill today as well. The debate about the size of the Assembly, and the associated issue of the size of the ministry, is one that I believe this Assembly needs to address during the current term. While I was keen for the issue of the size of the Assembly to be considered concurrently with the one about the size of the ministry, I am of the view that this bill does not preclude action on the size of the Assembly and indeed probably encourages us to get on with that conversation in a timely manner.

The Greens have been clear that we do support an increase in the size of the Assembly. As has been discussed many times, the Assembly has not increased in size since the commencement of self-government, and yet the population of the territory, as we all know, has increased considerably during that time. And that has produced the situation where our ratio of voters to elected members is one member to around 15,000 voters, significantly higher than all other Australian jurisdictions. The ACT Assembly also combines, as we well know, both state and local government functions. But even if local councils were included in the ratio that I talked about earlier, the ACT would still have fewer elected representatives per voter than both the Northern Territory and Tasmania.

The Greens believe that increasing the size of the Assembly will deliver better governance for the people of the ACT, as would increasing the size of the ministry. It is well understood that ministers in the ACT carry a large number of portfolios and that this ensures there is a heavy workload. And whilst none of the ministers, I think, would shirk that heavy workload, it does have consequences and I believe that the ACT people could be better served by a government where ministers do carry fewer portfolios, allowing them to focus on fewer issues, to get into more detail on each area and have the time to be more accessible to their constituencies. So I do not think this is about necessarily lightening workloads but, in fact, in some ways allowing that work time to be more intensively focused on the matters for which ministers are responsible.

I think increasing the size of the ministry is one way to ease the pressures that do exist and produce those benefits I have just described. This bill provides the capacity for the Chief Minister to determine the size of the ministry well into the future. If the size of the Assembly stays the same, then the increase in size of the ministry should be appropriately minimal. But should the Assembly agree to increase the number of

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