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Monday, 21 June 2010
Page: 6035

Mr BYRNE (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Parliamentary Secretary for Trade) (6:08 PM) —In answer to the good question from the member for Swan, as part of the planning process for a community cabinet meeting, shortly after the locality of a meeting is advised, PM&C’s Community Cabinet Secretariat meets with the office of the government’s local representative, local member or duty senator for the electorate to advise of the forthcoming meeting. I am sorry to ask you: I presume that you had been contacted with respect to this particular—

Mr Irons —Yes.

Mr BYRNE —I am sorry; I just wanted to confirm that. That is okay. Where the local member is not a government member, the Deputy Secretary, Governance, of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet writes to the local member with advice about the meeting and offers a point of contact to facilitate their attendance. The letter is both faxed and posted on the day that advertising for the meeting first appears. If there is no response after a couple of days, a secretariat member will contact the member’s office to confirm that the letter has been received. The Cabinet Secretary writes to all non-government senators in the state in which a community cabinet is being held advising of the meeting and offering a point of contact to facilitate their attendance. These procedures have been in place since the Bathurst meeting in November 2009.

With respect to people trying to get through who might not have been able to, unfortunately it is like a first-come, first-served basis. The difficulty is, you have a number of people who cannot make it—I stand to be corrected by the departmental officials behind me. If it helps the member for Swan, I think there was a delegation of women looking at rural child care who were not able to make the cabinet meeting because the community cabinet meetings had been booked out. When I found out about that, I agreed to meet with them to allay their concerns. I can understand their frustration, but frequently these events are over-booked. Unfortunately, it is first come, first serve, as I understand it, but I am happy to be corrected by any of the departmental officials behind me. If there is any other issue you want to raise with respect to that, I would be happy to pursue it further for you.