Page 4240 - Week 13 - Thursday, 19 November 2015

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As I have said before, we have a sad habit in Australia about questioning people about their choices on children and of talking down people’s hopes for family once they get past the first baby and so on. I really think we need to do everything in our power to welcome the babies, to work together across parliaments and across parties to make this city and this country more welcoming of mums and their babies, and dads, too.

Amendment agreed to.

Motion, as amended, agreed to.

Standing orders—proposed new standing order

Debate resumed from 29 October 2015, on motion by Dr Bourke:

That the following new standing order be inserted in the standing orders:

“Referred to committee

99A. A petition or e-petition with at least 500 signatories from residents/citizens of the Australian Capital Territory shall be referred to the relevant Assembly standing committee for consideration. In the event that the subject matter of the petition makes it unclear which committee it should be referred to, the Speaker will determine the appropriate committee.”.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (12.19): The Liberal Party has considered Dr Bourke’s amendment to the standing orders and thinks it is reasonable. The public go to a lot of trouble to put these petitions together. The petitions often come to this place and do not seem to go much beyond that. We at least now have the provision that ministers respond. This provision will allow committees to make a decision on whether or not they want to take an issue further, and it has our support.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (12.19): I am cautiously supportive of this proposal, although I have some reservations about how it might practically proceed, and that is something that no doubt the passage of time will inform us on. I think this will provide an interesting opportunity for members of the public that should trigger a discussion in the Assembly.

Members will know my support for that because it is only a matter of weeks ago that I brought to this place a proposal to allow members of the public to put forward topics of discussion as a matter of public importance. As members will recall, I was unable to garner support for that but I note that this proposal will allocate potentially far more of the Assembly’s time to issues triggered by the public. If any of the reservations before were about the time it would take, this is an interesting development.

Obviously I support the notion that members of the public should have issues addressed by the Assembly but I reflect on a couple of the practical issues that may arise here. Certainly the text of the motion does not include any checks or conditions on the topics that are proposed, for example a topic that triggers privacy issues, a topic

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