Page 3835 - Week 12 - Thursday, 29 October 2015

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Mr Smyth: Somebody here—sorry, Mr Rattenbury?

Mr Rattenbury: I said it took a whole four weeks, Mr Smyth.

Mr Smyth: A whole four weeks?

Madam DEPUTY Speaker: Mr Smyth, Mr Rattenbury is not having a conversation with you across the chamber.

Mr Smyth: It is interesting that Mr Rattenbury just spoke more on the politics of the issue than on the substantive matter. Perhaps it goes more to his mindset now; how he sees the world. It is important that if the world does not match Mr Rattenbury’s interpretation, suddenly, somehow, it is grubby and a poor reflection on other people.

People will judge Mr Rattenbury on what he says and does. There are a lot of things that Mr Rattenbury has said that he would do that he abandoned to become a minister. If there is criticism of the Barr Labor-Greens government, perhaps it is deserved.

We had a discussion about this in admin and procedure. I raised a few issues. It is interesting that we have the interpreter with us today. The question then is about the fact that these are some of the things that are consequences of that. Siting cameras in this place raises the issue of whether an interpreter is actually the most appropriate way for those that are hearing impaired to access the discussions that occur in this place. I have spoken to the Clerk about how much it would cost to have real-time captioning. The Clerk sort of blanched, and we all blanched in admin and procedure as well. I understand that no parliament in Australia does it. I assume it would be very expensive, but there is a question on the expense of what we do.

Often those less able to participate can be the most excluded. There are also the visually impaired: what we can do for them? Then there is the issue of language impairment. As we know, Mandarin is the second most spoken language after English in the ACT. As a truly inclusive multicultural society, do we look at other languages? Is it Chinese? Is it Vietnamese? Is it Korean and Japanese or some of those large populations that we have? We have a very large Indian population.

I think today we start down a step. It is a step in the right direction to ensure that we work to include people as quickly, as well and as ably as we can include them so that we get full participation in the process and people are able to exercise their rights to be part of the democratic process.

I congratulate Ms Lawder on bringing this forward. Well done to her. It is perhaps something where we should all reflect that it has taken some 26 years for us to adopt this. I thank Mr Rattenbury. I did not realise that it was first used in an Australian parliament in 2006, and that is an interesting date to know; it has taken some time for the use of interpreters to appear. But it is still sporadic. Perhaps what we do today will start all parliaments on a path where it becomes the norm rather than having to do it by seeking leave.

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