Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 17 March 2010) . . Page.. 1064 ..
MADAM ASSISTANT SPEAKER: Mr Seselja, as you know, all members deserve to be heard in silence. This rule is unfortunately honoured often in the breach, and if the chair stopped every time there was an interjection there would be no proceedings at all, I am afraid. Mr Barr, you have the floor, hopefully in silence.
MR BARR: Thank you, Madam Assistant Speaker. So, just to conclude my remarks, yes, these are difficult issues that must be grappled with. There is always the possibility that an agreement will not be able to be reached between the government and the industry where they will be 100 per cent satisfied with the outcome. But I maintain a very firm view as minister that I am not an automatic teller machine who just stamps “approved” on every ambit claim that an industry group puts before me. I will ask difficult questions and I will contest some of the assumptions that underpin some of the ambit that has been put forward by the racing industry.
That said, the government’s starting point is an increase in funding for the racing industry and the argument is over the quantum of that increase. That is the fundamental issue that is at stake here. We will bring funding into the budget and provide certainty into the future with an indexation, so growth in funding by CPI. I come back to the point I made earlier: the argument we are having with the racing industry is whether that growth should be funded at CPI or CPI plus one per cent. There would be hundreds of industry organisations, hundreds of community groups, hundreds of portfolio areas, that would love to have their indexation above CPI, and there would be some people who would argue that we must ensure rigour in the budget process. And it is very clear that the Liberal Party do not offer that particular rigour; they never have and they never will.
MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (6.21): Conscious of the time, I will just take a few minutes. Mr Barr is very sensitive when there are interjections. He is very courageous in defaming people who cannot defend themselves today and has acted quite disgracefully, it must be said.
I will touch on the amendment briefly before going to the motion itself. I think Mr Smyth summed it up fairly well: what we have is an amendment that would do virtually nothing. It reads a lot like the government amendments we get and we have had in previous years, where they just note a bunch of things that the government is doing; it is what we used to have right through the last term of the Assembly and majority government. We had the government noting what it was doing and then going away and not doing much, and that is essentially what this amendment does. It is another Greens amendment that the government is exceedingly comfortable with.
If you want to hold someone accountable, the more comfortable they are, I think you have always got to question how effective that accountability is.
Mr Smyth has gone through the detail of this amendment, but it actually does not achieve what this motion is about in any way. What it does is give the government a leave pass to continue behaving in the way that they have been behaving. I want to go to the minister’s treatment of the industry. It is surely a basic requirement of being a minister that you meet with stakeholders, that you meet with the key stakeholders and