Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 8 Hansard (24 August) . . Page.. 2612..
MRS BURKE (continuing):
body, but it should be noted that the funds are appropriated and allocated through the budgetary process.
Surely, one would say, some form of scrutiny and discussion should have been had at the cabinet level for the establishment of an apparently high-profile elected body in the ACT—or is the Chief Minister saying it was?—to represent our indigenous community at a level that, it is hoped, would elevate the needs and desires of indigenous people. The reason for mentioning this issue is that the Treasurer pointed out in the delivery of this budget that it would be his desire to see some of the administrative complexities removed.
My colleague Mr Smyth has again mentioned, and I have just reiterated, the complex ministerial responsibilities and arrangements that now exist with this government. It is almost like the smokescreens and mirrors. I am over here talking about policy. I will be the minister that stands up and takes the glory. I think I raised this point with Ms Gallagher. I notice she is now talking to the Chief Minister. I said, "Ms Gallagher, you are now going to be doing all the hard work and the Chief Minister will take all the glory."She said, "I am used to it."So there you go.
I find it quite interesting that, during the estimates process, the very complexities the Treasurer had hoped would be removed have resurfaced. Indigenous affairs are now predominantly administered through the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services, yet ministerial responsibility remains with the Chief Minister. I think the answer I was given was, "Because he has a very strong interest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs."
I would say Mr Smyth was quite right in saying—and I think other members have alluded to it as well—that far from having some sort of streamlined ministerial administration; we have disarray. The complexities have not been removed. they have become more complex. Again, this government is just reneging on its duty to the ACT community by simply not tabling the functional review so we know where the money is being spent and why it is being spent. This is why we have difficulty coming to terms with the things this government is actually saying about anything in the budget.
MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra—Leader of the Opposition) (11.31): I will be very brief in closing because I do not want to take up too much time I mentioned the water abstraction charge of $37 million. Frank Pangallo apparently said it would cost his council $27,000. The relevant matter I draw to the government's attention is the 1997 High Court four to three decision to strike down the New South Wales tobacco fee, including the fact that states and territories had tried to re-establish the pre-Federation tax basis of the colonies.
However, in deciding whether a franchise scheme was in reality an excise, the court identified a high fee and a lack of regulation as among the telltale signs. The High Court decided there were minimal provisions controlling businesses selling tobacco and the fee was manifestly a revenue-raising tax. The majority decision relied on the ruling of Justice Dixon in 1949 that section 90 was intended to give the federal parliament exclusive power to control taxation commodities.