Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 2188 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (12.12): Mr Speaker, having seen this motion this morning, my initial inclination was to damn it outright and to oppose it outright. Having heard Ms Follett speak to her motion, I am forced to agree with an important point she makes, a point which I think is lost on the Greens, and that is that there seems to be a fundamental misconception about the way in which budgets are put together in this place. My party has indicated that it stands for reviewing and revising the way in which government is delivered in this Territory, and that is a task on which we are currently bent. But, until an alternative model is devised, it seems to me that there is simply no alternative but for governments duly elected in this place to service government to put together a document called a budget which proposes the expenditure of money and the raising of revenue for the succeeding or the present 12 months for which it is framed, and then to seek the passage of that document through the Assembly. The thrust of what Ms Follett said to the Assembly is that it is difficult for the Assembly to assume the role of framer and deliverer of the budget in an environment where the self-government Act, and many decades of parliamentary precedents, require that governments take on that role, and only governments take on that role.
It may be, Mr Speaker, that in future years there is some alternative method devised whereby, as Ms Tucker and Ms Horodny have suggested, there is some capacity for the rest of the Assembly effectively to take a blank sheet of paper and between them frame the budget document. It seems to me that that role is necessarily tied up with not just the delivery of a document entitled "The Budget" but also the question of making fundamental decisions about the administration of all the portfolios of government, and we cannot divorce one from the other. Nonetheless, Mr Speaker, at present that is not the case.
Mr Berry: And convincing the Feds - convincing people up there that it should change.
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Berry points out that convincing others that this is the right way to go may be an issue as well. In the present context it is simply not practical to suggest that all and sundry are involved in producing a budget. It simply does not work. I realise that the Greens - - -
Ms Follett: Beforehand it works.
MR HUMPHRIES: In terms of consultation beforehand, exactly what Ms Follett urges us to do in fact happened. Ms Follett did not avail herself of any chance to consult about the budget, but members of this place, including the Greens - - -
Ms Follett: So the health unions agreed to this, did they?
MR HUMPHRIES: I was present when unions were invited to come to the table and discuss this budget. I was there. I can name the union leaders who stood around the table taking part in that debate. They might not have liked the decisions that we made in consequence of that consultation, but we did consult with them. We are constrained by the fact that, although many people will come forward and say, "We representatives of this particular area of government spending and activity in this Territory" - be it health, education, public transport, mental health, or whatever - "want you to do certain things, we want you to protect our area", ultimately, only one party, one group of people in the