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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2000 Week 3 Hansard (9 March) . . Page.. 736..

MR OSBORNE (continuing):

On such grounds, I am not prepared to give it my support. I believe that the Government would be better served by redirecting their efforts into more meaningful programs.

MR HIRD (11.16): Mr Speaker, I must say that to my knowledge this is the first time Mr Berry has actually admitted that he is wrong. That is shown by the fact that he withdrew his amendment. His speech shows that very clearly. It is in Hansard and it shows just how foolish he looks.

Ms Tucker has also attacked my right to dissent. It is my right, Mr Speaker, at any time to change my mind during any hearings. Ms Tucker gave me the schoolmarm look that said, "Student, you have no rights at all. You have no rights at all within standing orders or the due processes of this parliament. You can't disagree with the report" I prepared a dissenting report. That is not good enough.

Mr Osborne: Who prepared it?

MR HIRD: I ensured that the dissenting report was added to the report. I just heard Mr Osborne say, "Who prepared it?". Well, Mr Speaker, let me tell you that Mr Osborne and Ms Tucker have staff financial arrangements far greater than mine. On the crossbenches they have in excess of $100,000. I, as a backbencher, as Mr Osborne would know, have short of $70,000. They can employ additional staff, I cannot. I just have to rely on the financial resources I have. Even the Opposition have greater financial resources than I have in their allocation for staffing.

I notice that those members opposite are only on one or two committees whereas I am on a considerable number of committees. That has come about because that is the process which this parliament has adopted over a period of 10 years. When they, the Opposition, were in government they had a member of the government on each of the committees. Now they want to change it. Well, let me tell you, Mr Speaker, what it will be like when they get back into government. It is like the use of commercial-in-confidence. Mr Berry had a memory lapse and forgot what he said when he was a Minister. Well, it will come back to bite you. It will come back to bite you like that did.

Mr Berry: What is that?

MR HIRD: What you said in respect to commercial-in-confidence. You go on saying that is not good enough; that there should be open government. Well, it will come back. What I am saying is that the due process or norm in this chamber is that a government member is on each of the committees. That is the practice. I must pay a tribute to you, Mr Speaker, as you also fulfil a role on a number of committees. I remind the crossbenchers again that they have far greater financial resources than I do. As for who wrote my dissenting report, it was written under my instructions by my staff. The same sort of arrangement is used by headmistress Tucker when she is getting questions prepared or reports prepared. Headmistress Tucker uses her staff.

MR SPEAKER: Please, you must refer to the member by the correct name.

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