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Thursday, 6 April 2000
Page: 15486

Mr EMERSON —I wish to congratulate the students of Maryfields Primary School of Mabel Park State School and of Kingston College for their participation recently in parliamentary debates. In the case of Maryfields Primary, the debates were held at the school itself and, in the case of Mabel Park State School and Kingston College, they were held at the Gold Coast council chambers at Nerang. The debates were vigorous, rigorous and most enjoyable with the kids really taking the opportunity to get passionately involved in them. I was delighted, therefore, with the level of interest and participation by the students in these debates. We had a Speaker and all the officials, such as the clerks. More than half of the children were on one side and a little fewer than half were on the other side.

Mr Hardgrave —Like this place.

Mr EMERSON —Very much like this place, as the member for Moreton has said. A vigorous debate ensued. I was able to convey to those students the important fact that on the vast bulk of the legislation that comes before the parliament there is, in fact, agreement. This is not widely known and people who watch question time and some of the other debates obviously draw the conclusion that we systematically and habitually disagree with each other. But the majority of legislation that comes before the parliament, no matter who is in government, is agreed upon.

I was pleased to be able to convey that to them. I was amused by the propensity of the kids to cross the floor. The merits of the debate were thrashed out and in the exchanges that occurred some of the kids from the other side—I must say that they were prompted in part by me—thought that the argument on the opposition side had greater force and some of them crossed the floor. Nevertheless, the opposition still lost those debates. In one case the Canberra official had to say, `Please, no more cross the floor because we will bring the government down.' I do not know whether this is a portent for the future when the children of Australia are saying: `When we hear the force of the argument, why not make those sorts of decisions and cross the floor?'

Finally, I was also amused by officials from Canberra—whom I must thank and congratulate—saying, `In the Labor Party's case you are absolutely bound; in the Liberal Party's case, that is not so.' We have seen in recent days that there is binding on both sides. (Time expired)