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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 2224..


MS FOLLETT (continuing):

Mr Speaker, I note that the Government has agreed to that recommendation in principle and I very much hope that in future we will see a much more consultative approach to the Assembly's own budget. I think that the savings that have been made in the Assembly's budget are fairly major for a budget of this size. They also have had a quite severe impact on the operation of this Assembly. That impact is being felt more and more as time goes by. The fact that at 5 o'clock this building is irretrievably locked to anybody from the community is very much a backward step.

I accept, Mr Speaker, that, in taking on the nature of these savings and the nature of the implementation of the savings, the Administration and Procedure Committee was really between a rock and a hard place. They were faced with a series of relatively unacceptable options for coping with the Assembly's budget. In fact, they found very few areas where the Assembly's budget could be reduced without affecting the operation of the place and also the access of the community to this Assembly. Mr Speaker, I am aware that the Administration and Procedure Committee have considered this matter, but I do not think their consideration was exactly an open or unstructured process. They were faced with having to implement a very severe budget cut and that has had an impact on all of us.

The lack of security in the building and the fact that the building closes at 5 o'clock is absolute foolhardiness, in my opinion. A large number of people work in this building well after 5 o'clock. None of them have any security whatsoever. There are a number of people who visit this building after 5 o'clock. In fact, most of the community find it most convenient to come and see members on their way home from work, or after school, or after the end of business hours. I think the inconvenience and lack of security that is now characteristic of this Assembly building is very much a retrograde step. I hope it is one that will be addressed, at least in the next budget.

Mr Speaker, the other matter that I want to refer to in relation to the Assembly's own budget is the fact that in previous Estimates Committee reports, when I was in government, there was a recommendation that the Assembly's budget be restored when it had been subject to a budget cut. My memory of that is that my Government took that action and responded to the Assembly's concerns. So, Mr Speaker, I think there is a precedent there. Over and above the political points about who did what, I think we must all accept, and I call on the Government to accept it wholeheartedly, the fact that in a small Assembly like this the Assembly's own budget simply must be an agreed budget. There are not that many of us and I think our requirements are fairly modest. In fact, it is a very modest Assembly indeed. That has not been the case in relation to this year's budget, and I certainly hope it will be the case in future years.

MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (4.16): An awful lot of misinformation has floated around about the Assembly budget, some of which has been to do with lack of consultation and all sorts of other things. As you would know, Mr Speaker, that is simply not the case. In fact, I attended an Administration and Procedure Committee meeting - - -

Mr Berry: Dragged down, kicking and screaming.

MRS CARNELL: Not kicking and screaming. I did not have to come to it. I was very happy to do so to explain the basis of the Assembly budget. Obviously, I did not do that very well because there was still an enormous amount of misinformation floating around.


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