Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 2191 ..
MR KAINE (continuing):
our legislation prevents it; secondly, that the conventions of this place since its inception would not support it; and, finally, that the Leader of the Opposition herself, many times over the last five years, has said - she has said it repeatedly - that the budget is the property of the government. The government have to put their budget up and they have to then live with it. Today the Leader of the Opposition attempts to set aside all of that. She attempts to set aside the law, attempts to set aside conventions, and attempts to jump ship on what was consistently her own view while she was Chief Minister and Treasurer.
There are two interpretations of the various elements of this motion. In some cases one could argue that it merely upsets the balance that the Government has determined within a program. The Government can implement several of these recommendations without adding another dollar to the budget. They can do it without transferring any money between programs. That means that they simply distort the equity that was inherent in their budget when they put it together. So the Government's balance of equity is set aside in favour of that of the Leader of the Opposition, although she has not put forward any evidence to suggest that her proposal, her apportionment of the money within a program, her concept of equity, is any better than that of the Government. She simply asserts that it is true and therefore we must do it.
In one case in particular there is a real implication that the Government shall produce additional money. I am referring to recommendation 34, which says:
The committee recommends that the Government give an assurance that appropriate funding, by way of supplementation, will be made available to implement mandatory reporting.
It could be that that would require the Government to appropriate more money than it had previously done, and this runs contrary to the view of the former Chief Minister and Treasurer that it should not be done and that it cannot be done; but suddenly today it can be done.
The real matter of concern in this motion, Mr Speaker, is the implication or the assertion that the Government can or should add $3.8m to the education budget. It has even been asserted that that might not be enough; that it should be $4.7m, or $10.9m, or $15.1m, or some other figure that has not been dreamed up yet. That cannot be done, as I understand it, within the operating processes for our budget as set down in the self-government Act and in our Audit Act. It could be done by transfer from the Treasurer's Advance, but the Treasurer's Advance is not there for such a purpose. The Treasurer's Advance is there for unforeseen and unexpected arisings during the course of the year that cannot otherwise be appropriated. To tell the Government that at some time during the year it can take $3.8m, or some additional sum not yet determined, out of the Treasurer's Advance and transfer it to the Education Department would be acting contrary to the intention and the decades of practice in terms of Treasurer's Advances in the Territory. So I find this a rather incomprehensible motion for a number of reasons, but it is an interesting one.