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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 19 November 2015) . . Page.. 4241 ..

that is already being considered by a committee or a topic that does not have implications for the wider community or public policy.

I mention that because of the way that the proposal is framed. It is a simple, mandatory requirement that any petition with at least 500 signatures shall be referred. I think it would be useful to have some kind of filter, as I proposed on the MPI standing order, where the Speaker would apply criteria. We do not have that here, and that is something we may need to be mindful of in the future, depending on the nature of the petitions that come forward.

One of the other issues is the timing of when a petition will go to the committee. It is immediately once it is tabled. I wonder whether there would be some benefit in waiting until there is a government response to a petition before an inquiry is established, particularly when the government may have a very material view on the consequences of the petition.

Having said that, the counter argument is that it can be useful to have some of the considerations of the issue away from government decision making to inform the government decision making. I acknowledge that there is a tension there but I reflect on the recent example around the Lyneham oval development. A government decision might overtake the committee process if we use that as an example. The petition was tabled. The government, in this case I as the responsible minister, was on a time line to take a decision some weeks later. Normally a committee would not respond in such a time. I think it raises a question as to whether there may develop an expectation that government would not make a decision until after a committee had reported, and one can imagine that being the case.

I predict now that it will not take long until somebody says, “How dare you take a decision on this? There has been a petition that is now before the committee.” It may be judicious for the government to proceed with a decision which may negate or address the concerns that a petition has raised.

I am happy to support this initiative today, but somewhat cautiously, as I continue to hold some reservations about how it will operate. I assume that in trialling this process we will make some assessment of that over the coming months. I look forward to seeing the first petition come in and how the committees address those matters.

DR BOURKE (Ginninderra) (12.23), in reply: I begin by thanking members of the admin and procedure committee for their support for this change to the standing orders, as reported to the Assembly by you recently, Madam Speaker. Also the Canberra Liberals, thank you for your support. The somewhat guarded response from Mr Rattenbury is interesting. I am sorry that he took the opportunity to re-prosecute his MPI case. He can say what he thinks, I suppose.

Mr Rattenbury interjecting—

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, members! Dr Bourke has the floor.

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