Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Amendment Bill 2013

12 March 2013

Ms BIRD (Cunningham—Parliamentary Secretary for Higher Education and Skills)
(17:40): It is my pleasure to sum up this debate, and I would like to thank all
the members for their contribution. I do feel a bit like the town crier of
birthday felicitations as I spoke earlier in the chamber to wish Wollongong
headspace a happy fifth birthday and I have great pleasure in summing this bill
up and wishing Canberra a happy 100th birthday today, so it is a great day to be
speaking in the chamber. I also acknowledge the two speakers before me, the
members for Stirling and Fraser, and I am sure in the great tradition of
bipartisan reaching across the aisles they will, in a particularly positive
manner, resolve the contentious issue of the member for Stirling as an ANU
illustrious alumni in his assessment and make the member for Fraser's list in
the future. I am sure they will resolve that matter.

It is appropriate that the bill be debated in the House today as it is the 100th anniversary of the laying of a foundation stone and the proclamation of the name of Canberra. Earlier today, as the previous speakers outlined, at the front of this building, the Prime Minister and the minister for regional Australia were joined by the Governor-General, representatives from all parties, Indigenous elders and a live television audience for a ceremony at Canberra's foundation stone. The leaders of 100 years ago came to Canberra's naming ceremony with the same enthusiasm, pride and optimism for the future that still drives us today. In many ways, the city's development has mirrored the nation's into a confident and vibrant place, nurturing the Australian sense of community and building resilience for the challenges of the future. Canberra is home to the institutions of Australian democracy and to many of the historical and cultural collections that tell our national story. The city should be and is a source of pride for all Australians. Regional Australia Minister, Simon Crean, said that the legacy of Canberra's founders would be strongly felt as it continued into its second century.

We have the bill today that reflects on the maturity of this city-state. The purpose of the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Amendment Bill 2013 is to amend the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988 to grant the ACT Legislative Assembly the power to determine its size. Currently, the process to change the number of members of the assembly requires a resolution to be passed by the assembly and then for regulations to be made by the Commonwealth and agreed to by the assembly. A now mature parliament, self-governing for more than 20 years, should not require the permission of another parliament to adjust itself to meet changing demands over time. The passage of the bill will provide just recognition of the maturity and capacity of the ACT Legislative Assembly demonstrated since it has attained self-government. What the passage of this bill does not represent is a change in the size of the assembly, only the mechanism by which change can occur if desired by the assembly. Nor does the bill represent a panacea to any particular issues that the assembly may face. I am sure all members will agree that it is a fitting act on this historic day, a celebration of the 100 years of the capital, that we support this bill, and I commend it to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Order that the bill be reported to the House without amendment.