Local government and the community
Inquiry: How can local government contribute to community life?
- Students will investigate ways the ACT Legislative Assembly contributes to change in the ACT community.
- Students will investigate how matters are brought to the attention of the parliament and discussed as a Matter of Public Importance (MPI) as well as discussing the role local and state government have in providing services to the community.
- The role of local government and the decisions it makes on behalf of the community (ACHASSK091)
Resources you'll need for this lesson:
- their thoughts on why banning single use plastic and plastic straws is an important issue;
- how this issue may have become an ACT government campaign (what could have initiated this concern about single use plastic and plastic straws?); and
- what other places in the world are banning single use plastic and plastic straws? (Seattle was the first US city to ban plastic straws and single use plastic utensils and California the first state to ban plastic straws).
Look at this poster on levels of government. Ask students:
- What area of government services the issue of single use plastic may belong to? (environment and waste).
- Could this issue cross over into other government services? (health—straws for people with a disability).
Matter of Public Importance (MPI) role play
Any member of the Legislative Assembly may propose a matter of public importance (MPI) to the Assembly for discussion. MPIs usually address an issue that is considered to be of relevance or concern to the ACT community. The Speaker selects the MPI for the day by drawing a topic from a hat at the beginning of a sitting day. The MPI discussion occurs on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons in sitting weeks after question time and the presentation of papers. All members have the option to speak on an MPI. Members of the opposition or crossbench will often raise an MPI to question the government’s performance and hold it to account. Similarly, government members will raise MPIs to highlight government achievements.
Before conducting a class MPI have the students watch this video of students attending a theatre production of Mr Stink, discussed the issue of homelessness, and then attended the Legislative Assembly to participate in an MPI debate.
In small groups have students read the selected excerpts (resource 1) from Hansard about single use plastics and plastic straws (Full debate—Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 10 Hansard (18 September).
The MPI raised by Ms Le Couteur will give students the opportunity to see how discussion in the Assembly raises issues that ultimately help lead to balanced decision making. After reading the excerpts have a class discussion. Talk to the students about the viewpoints of each member and how issues need to be discussed to ensure all perspectives and voices are heard.
Class MPI role play
Divide the class into 3 groups (these do not need to be even), then have each group to discuss and decide on a topic they would like to discuss as an MPI in the role play. Each topic is one sentence beginning “The importance of……….”, e.g.: Ms Le Couteur’s MPI was “The importance of reducing single-use plastic in the ACT”. Once each group has decided a topic they write it down on a piece of paper ready to be placed in a hat for a draw. Each group must also decide who the first person to speak is and write this name on the piece of paper also. Once the 3 topics are in the hat it is ready to be drawn.
The classroom should now be set up as a parliamentary chamber (or an alternative space), see teacher's MPI script (resource two) for information on how to do this. Student roles will need to be allocated including Speaker, government, opposition and cross bench (these could be 3 groups deciding MPI). Once a Speaker has been chosen (this could be done via a vote) they will draw the MPI out of the hat. The topic chosen becomes the issue for discussion, the student nominated to speak on the piece of paper will open the debate.
Students all move to their places in the parliament, allow all students 5 minutes to write a sentence or two on the selected topic before commencing the role play, they will be able to use this during the discussion. Using the MPI student script conduct the MPI role-play (resource three).