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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (20 June) . . Page.. 2143..


MS TUCKER (continuing):

The creation of this uncertainty is actually the intention of the bill, as it will put pressure on the government to use the call-in powers only where the justification is clear and accepted by all sides of the Assembly, or at least the majority. Conversely, if the government wants to push through a controversial proposal, it must be prepared to face a vote in the Assembly about the appropriateness of this action. Disallowable instruments are a standard means of allowing the Assembly to scrutinise government decisions and I see no reason why they should not be applied in this situation. My amendments, hopefully, will return the use of the call-in powers to exceptional circumstances only, which is how it should be, and stop the regular occurrence that the Liberal government has made of it. I look forward to the Assembly's support of my bill when it is brought back for debate in August.

Debate (on motion by Mr Smyth ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Statement by Speaker

MR SPEAKER: Members, I would like to make a statement in relation to the Financial Management Amendment Bill 2001 (No 2), which is listed for discussion today as order of the day No 1, private members business. The bill was introduced last Thursday by Mr Berry. The bill proposes to insert a new section 66AA in the Financial Management Act 1996. The proposed new section provides that no payment of public money may be made for providing a new free school bus scheme unless the scheme has been approved expressly, for this section by a resolution of the Assembly. The section expires on 20 October 2001.

The bill does not contravene the provisions of the standing orders, specifically standing order 200, as it is not a proposed enactment for the appropriation of public money; nor does it contravene standing order 201. It does propose to regulate the spending of public money, as provided by section 57 of the self-government act. I do wish to bring to the attention of the Assembly that on 23 November 1995 the Assembly resolved:

That this Assembly reaffirms the principles of the Westminster system embodied in the "financial initiative of the Crown" and the limits that that initiative places on non-Executive members in moving amendments other than those to reduce items of proposed expenditure.

That resolution was moved, debated and agreed to prior to the resumption of the consideration of the Appropriation Bill 1995-96 at the detail stage. The debate on the matter addressed amendments to appropriation bills and it was in this context that the resolution was considered. Later that evening I, as Speaker, ruled a series of amendments to the Appropriation Bill proposed by non-executive members out of order as they were in conflict with that resolution. Certain of those amendments proposed restrictions on the use the executive could make of the money appropriated by the act, that is, for the purposes of reducing the level and quality of public library services in that case.

The issue is a complex one. It is one that has considerable significance for the governance of the territory as well as for the rights of non-executive members. I do not propose to rule the bill out of order at this stage on the grounds that it conflicts with the 1995 resolution of the Assembly, as the standing of that resolution in relation to bills other than appropriation bills is not beyond doubt.


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