Page 2474 - Week 07 - Monday, 15 August 2022
The confidence of the parliament to pass a budget is a fundamental requirement of a government.
This extraordinary and shambolic situation creates three possible outcomes: the Greens back away from their position and, in doing so, admit that they are phoneys, they are unprincipled and they are sell-outs to their Labor Party political masters; the Chief Minister concedes to the Greens, admitting that it is, in fact, the Greens that hold all the power; or the budget fails, and Mr Barr cannot and must not remain Chief Minister. Regardless of which way this goes, the split in this government is untenable!
The ability to pass the budget and guarantee supply is the most fundamental of duties of a government—without so, the government literally cannot function! This fractured government is falling apart. Ministers are now indicating that they will be voting against their own government! This cannot and must not go on. The Chief Minister has lost control of his government and we have lost confidence in this Chief Minister.
This entire debacle is an insult to everything we know about good government. The position now held by Mr Rattenbury and the ACT Greens is contrary to the Parliamentary and Governing Agreement, which all Labor and Greens MLAs are a signatory to. This agreement requires Labor and Greens MLAs to:
Guarantee support for the passage of the Appropriation Bills—
Agree to work together as a Cabinet and Government.
Those opposite are doing anything but!
This situation makes a complete joke of the Expenditure Review Committee, which is made up of the Chief Minister, the Deputy Chief Minister and Mr Rattenbury as Attorney-General and leader of the Greens. The role of the Expenditure Review Committee is to oversee the budget process and consider all expenditure, revenue, capital, savings, and investment proposals. The committee’s recommendations are then proposed, and final agreement to decisions must be ratified by cabinet ministers. Mr Rattenbury’s ongoing role on this committee cannot and must not continue.
This position also totally undermines the principle of cabinet solidarity; the bedrock principle of our Westminster system that, once cabinet has made a decision, all cabinet ministers are expected to support the decision publicly. The federal parliament’s Cabinet Handbook provides an important guidance on why cabinet solidarity is so important, and I quote:
A Westminster-style Cabinet is defined by adherence to the principles of collective responsibility and Cabinet solidarity. These principles are the binding devices that ensure the unity of purpose of the government and underpin the formulation of consistent advice.
But Mr Rattenbury and the Greens have thrown all these principles of good governance and good government out the window, and, as such, the ability of this government is irreparably undermined and damaged.