MS PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (12:24:32): My question is for the Leader of the Government and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr Jennings. The President has, in my view quite rightly, recently requested that members stand up for the acknowledgement of country in recognition of our Indigenous brothers and sisters at the opening of each session. I, along with other members, choose not to enter the chamber until this acknowledgement begins and until the Lord’s Prayer has been recited—a prayer, I might add, that recognises only one faith, the Christian faith, a belief system that I and many others in this house do not subscribe to. I hope we will find an alternative soon. My question is: as leader of this house, representative of the Premier of Victoria and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, are you in any way concern that we begin our daily schedule recognising an archaic tradition rather than acknowledging the true traditional custodians of the land we meet on?
The PRESIDENT: I am going to do something I really hate. I am going to give a point of clarification on your preamble. As for the start of the day, I have decided to sit down after the Lord’s Prayer and obviously let some people find their way into the chamber, and then I choose to stand to do the acknowledgement of the traditional owners of the land. If any members feel that they would like to join me in that, they should feel free. I choose to stand when I read out messages from the Governor. I choose to stand when I read out messages from the Assembly. There are a number of times I choose to stand which are not prescribed necessarily in the standing orders, but I choose to stand on those occasions. I do not expect everybody else to stand with me when I do that. I just wanted to give that point of clarification. As for the question to the minister, it does appear to be in the form of an opinion, and I would invite Ms Patten to rephrase it.
Ms PATTEN: Thank you, President, for the clarification and the opportunity to do that.
My question is: as Leader of the Government, representative of the Premier and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, will you consider changing the daily schedule?
Mr Rich-Phillips: On a point of order, President, I ask for your ruling. The member has asked a question on a number of roles of the Leader of the Government, including as leader of the house in relation to parliamentary procedure. I seek your guidance as to whether, based on this precedent, you will allow members to ask questions of the leader of the house, as Leader of the Government, in relation to parliamentary process and practice.
The PRESIDENT: Ms Patten, do you mind if we have the opportunity to come back to you.
MS PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (12:42:16): Thank you, President. I appreciate the opportunity. In getting right to the nub of the question, Minister, will you take steps to make representations as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs so that we begin our daily schedule recognising the traditional custodians of the land who have been here for 60 000 years rather than with an archaic tradition brought here a couple of hundred years ago?
PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (12:44:48): Thank you, Minister. That was almost a human response, I felt, even if it was not your human voice responding to me. Mr Somyurek interjected. Ms PATTEN: I missed the nuance. Thank you, Mr Somyurek. By way of supplementary, will you commit to working with me to bring on notice of motion 13 standing in my name on the notice paper that seeks to remove the Lord’s Prayer from our daily sitting schedule, therefore making the recognition of Aboriginal land our first order of business instead?