Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (20 June) . . Page.. 2145..
MR MOORE (continuing):
I know Mr Berry disagrees with that at the moment. The reason he disagrees with it at the moment is because he is very enthusiastic about this particular issue and he has found another way to go about achieving the same goal, and that is to modify the Financial Management Act instead of seeking to modify the Appropriation Act. But the effect is exactly the same. The effect is to undermine the budget; to make sure that the government does not have the prerogative to spend the money for a particular time. In this particular case Mr Berry's time line is until after the next election, so he deals with this in a different way.
But once that precedent is set he will say, "We are not talking about until after the election; what we are talking about is until the following year, or until four years time or until five years time." The effect then is exactly the same. The effect is to interfere with the government's prerogative to make a judgment about what is the most effective way to spend the money. That is actually what the Assembly has charged us with doing. The Assembly, by electing the Chief Minister, and the Chief Minister then appointing the ministers and taking the role of government, has actually charged the government with responsibility for the expenditure of the money.
It is right for Mr Berry to be critical of this expenditure, as he is. It is right for other members to be critical of other areas of expenditure. But if we accept this bill it is so easy for this methodology then to be used by everybody else to choose their small part of the budget and to change the effect of how a budget is put together and how it proceeds. The result clearly is that the budget process will be farcical and the Assembly will become unworkable.
Mr Speaker, as you have just warned us in referring us back to the 1995 resolution, it is a path we must not go down. This legislation must be resistant, Mr Speaker, no matter what the issue is. That is the very reason why we need to sit back and have a look at exactly what the Assembly does and how it operates, particularly on this matter.
Mr Speaker, I believe that we began debating this issue of the financial prerogative of the crown and how it could be interfered with in 1989 when I was first a member. There was argument to say that a member who was not a member of the government could not even put up a bill. There was an argument that they could not even put up a bill because the result of the bill would create an expenditure just from the fact that it was printed. The self-government act was changed to make sure that it was clear that that nonsense was removed. I think it was always a tenuous argument but it underlined a fundamental argument about governments having their right to put the budget together-
Mr Berry: No, no, to appropriate, not to spend, and you know it, Michael.
MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr Berry, you will have a chance to respond later.
MR MOORE: And then to manage and administer the government's finances for which we are to be held accountable. Mr Speaker, that is the fundamental point here. That is what members ought to be considering.
There will be another issue that members will also consider because you never do these things in isolation. Mr Berry is enthusiastic about preventing the provision of school buses to 16,000 people, but they have already put up their hands and said yes, they want