Andrew Barr Photo: Jeffrey Chan
ACT Labor and Greens MLAs are set to boycott for the second year running a multi-faith church service to mark the start of the Legislative Assembly calendar.
The service has been organised by St Paul's Anglican Church in Manuka, following last year's controversy over a church service that was organised by Liberals Speaker Vicki Dunne.
Greens and Labor MLAs voted to ban religious services associated with the Legislative Assembly after calling the Speaker's event an attack on the neutrality of the Parliament.
Ms Dunne has not organised this year's service, which will be held on February 24 to mark the first sitting week of the assembly year.
St Paul's will host a similar service for the Federal Parliament on February 11.
But the ACT government's eight Labor and one Green MLA are all unlikely to attend the ecumenical service, which will be presided over by Canberra's new Catholic Archbishop Christopher Prowse.
The service will involve representatives of non-Christian faiths.
Acting Chief Minister Andrew Barr said this year's service was a private event and it was up to individual MLAs if they wanted to attend. ''I will not be attending,'' Mr Barr said.
Labor MLAs Simon Corbell, Joy Burch, Mick Gentleman, Yvette Berry and Mary Porter have also declined.
It is expected that Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and Ginninderra MLA Chris Bourke will do the same.
The eight Canberra Liberals have indicated they expect to attend the service.
The rector of St Paul's, Brian Douglas, said there was no pressure on the ACT's politicians to attend.
''It's a community service that recognises the importance of the ACT Legislative Assembly,'' Mr Douglas said.
''It's up to them.
''It's not something the Speaker organised. This is entirely our initiative.''
Greens minister Shane Rattenbury said it was appropriate that St Paul's had organised the service, ''rather than it being an event officially linked to the assembly, which is a secular institution''.
''I appreciate that there are MLAs who choose to mark the start of the sitting year with a church service,'' he said.
''I personally choose to reflect on my role in the assembly and draw inspiration in other ways and, as such, will not be attending.''