Page 4171 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 26 November 2013

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MLAs elected, then this bill does give the scope to the Chief Minister of the day to increase the ministry size accordingly.

I did note, in reflecting on this legislation and thinking about whether these were the right numbers, it is certainly comparable to Tasmania where the lower house currently has 25 members and the Tasmanian ministry is nine. So I think in that sense that reflects the fact that the proposal in this legislation is in accordance with other models but I think it also reflects the fact that, while we remain at 17, I do not think anybody’s expectation would be to increase the numbers to that sized ministry.

I do acknowledge that Mr Hanson had also tabled a bill that proposed to increase the size of the ministry to six and, while he has not brought it on for debate yet, I do think that this approach of having perhaps more flexibility for a chief minister into the future is a preferable approach, not that Mr Hanson’s was wrong; I think this is simply the next evolution of that thinking.

This, of course, is a funny discussion and one which could be perceived as difficult not to appear self-serving in that there are obviously some incentives, as a current minister, to perhaps increase the scope of the ministry and reduce some of those pressures that are there, but I think we have to be realistic about what one person can achieve in a day. I certainly know that my office runs full steam each and every day. And I think that, those personal issues aside, the governance issues that underlie this discussion are significant and are important.

Certainly when the expert reference group that was looking at the size of the Assembly last year came to interview me, we had a very significant discussion. At that point I had not long been in the ministry, but certainly my initial experience was one that raised to me some issues of whether we can do it better in the future. I think the discussion we had there really crystallised some thinking for me on the opportunities in perhaps expanding the size of the ministry.

I think the Chief Minister summed this up quite well in her tabling speech when she said that being responsive to the directorates, the community, the media, managing day-to-day issues and handling issues that need urgent attention makes the position of a current minister very challenging. And she did go on to say that “we embrace this challenge daily”. I certainly agree with her on that front. Certainly the ministers are very ably assisted by both their staff and the public service in ensuring that that workload is managed as effectively as possible but, as I say, I think there is scope here, without reflecting on current or past members, to move to a place that enhances governance of the territory.

I would simply say that I am happy to support this bill today and I certainly look forward to members of the Assembly continuing conversations about the size of the Assembly and implementing some of the changes on that score during this term.

I also heard the remarks Mr Hanson just made about other matters. I think there is certainly scope for this to be a broader discussion. I think all of these things tend to be interconnected in a way and I am certainly happy to be involved in discussions that

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