Page 3494 - Week 11 - Thursday, 24 September 2015

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What kinds of topics could we imagine might come up and should come up under this sort of process? What might have come up if this mechanism had been open to the community in the last few months? Undoubtedly there might have been some topics that would make us feel uncomfortable, but also perhaps there would have been some issues that we have never given a thought to in our daily work because they have not made it into the Canberra Times or a constituent has not written to us, or perhaps has not written to all sides of the chamber, and members have not given the topic some thought.

Let us think about some of the recent topical issues that did not get brought forward as matters of public importance. We had the issue of the Manuka land swap and the Lyneham oval. Planning issues occasionally get a run. There is the Mr Fluffy issue. There is even the topic of Lyme disease, which a constituent has approached me about and which required me to do some research to understand it in more depth.

One of the great benefits of an MPI process is that it can put new and unaddressed topics on the agenda for debate. That can be the start of something, perhaps the start of a new focus for policy development. Historically, that is something the Greens have done in this place with a number of MPI topics over the years—topics that others in this place have found challenging, topics where at times people have even mocked the bringing forward of the very topic—that have now been taken up by government for policy development, such as natural burials, vulnerable road users and peak oil. Imagine the added benefits of stimulating our policy debate on issues from right across the community and how that might positively enable those issues to get an airing, enable those issues to be brought to the fore for members as we perhaps need to undertake some research to be able to participate in the discussion.

There is no doubt that there are topics that we find it challenging at times to discuss. They might get put on the backburner because of lack of time or because we just do not know enough about them and so they do not get canvassed in this place. The change that I am proposing through this motion is a change that would challenge us but would ultimately lead to this place becoming a more open and transparent venue for the whole community and the debate of their ideas.

It would not prevent members of this place putting forward MPIs on Tuesday of each sitting week, so a mechanism that has delivered and does deliver for the people of the ACT would continue. But it opens that process up in an innovative way to the genuine input of the community. We all talk about our desire to engage with the community, and we talk about the government needing to talk to and listen to the community. Part of that should be to encourage our community to engage in meaningful ways in our legislature.

I know, having been the Speaker for a term, that it can be challenging to get the community to engage with the community. Things such as the open day that we had at the weekend, the art tours that used to be run and all the community engagement events that are hosted by the Speaker and organised by the Office of the Legislative Assembly are important mechanisms for inviting and welcoming the public into our Assembly. We should continue to hold these important events and to welcome the

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