Page 3839 - Week 12 - Thursday, 29 October 2015
procedure. Admin and procedure were not convinced of the need to change. The Liberal Party room is of the same opinion. We are all representatives of the community. The MPIs that I have put forward in my party room are always driven by issues that are raised with me in whatever capacity I appear in the community and often some of the best MPIs are the ones that come straight out of the community. As representatives there really is no need to have this second procedure.
It makes me wonder whether or not the minister feels he is missing out, that as a Green he cannot raise MPIs because he has chosen to sit in the cabinet. That is the choice you make. With that, we do not believe that there is any need to change the standing orders as they appear.
MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (11.47), in reply: I thank colleagues for their comments today. The intent of this motion was to change the standing orders to allow members of the public to nominate topics for one of the two MPI opportunities, on a Thursday. The process allows for a member of the public to nominate topics for discussion by submitting them to the Speaker. And after the Speaker has determined that they are in order, as she does with other MPIs, they would then go to the administration and procedure committee which would select one for discussion in a particular sitting week. In-order proposals could be debated for up to three months after they are submitted.
My thinking behind this was simply to develop a way to ensure that the ACT Assembly is genuinely reflecting the concerns of the community in the debates we have in the Assembly. It would provide another simple way for the community to hear the views of members of the Assembly. I think it frames the very positive and innovative engagement tool with our community. I think everybody here supports that and I think that is reflected in the comments particularly of Dr Bourke.
We do, of course, have a petitions process but that can be a little complicated and some groups do not find the formalities of that process very easy. You have to wait some time to get a response from the government, having submitted the petition. The petition does not allow the community to hear from other members and other parties in the Assembly.
The MPI debate is for 45 minutes. There is an opportunity for different members to speak. It can be more considered than a media response. I think the community would appreciate hearing a bit more considered discussion on issues of concern to them rather than just a two-sentence sound bite which is what they do get if even they are dedicated and tune into the news and the radio and the like.
That said, the current MPI system is not all bad. We do have some interesting topics presented to this place by all members. We do see some repetition of topics and topics that are reworded to basically address the same thing. The MPI process is used to run political agendas. This, of course, is not a bad thing. It is part of the nature of this place and it does not mean an issue is not of public importance. But we have this opportunity twice in a sitting week.