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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 2222 ..

MS FOLLETT (Leader of the Opposition) (4.02): Mr Speaker, the Labor Opposition will also be opposing Mr Moore's motion to consider the Schedule as a whole. There is a fundamental problem that all members should be aware of in voting on this matter. I acknowledge that Mr Moore is pursuing a course for particular reasons; but the effect of what he is seeking to do is to give the Government a single-line budget, a one-line appropriation, of $1,343,690,900. It seems to me, Mr Speaker, that that offends mightily against any question of accountability or scrutiny of the Government's budget.

Mr Moore: That is not what it does, and you know it.

MS FOLLETT: Mr Speaker, as I said, I accept that that is not the reason Mr Moore is doing it. He is using it as a device to achieve other objectives. Nevertheless, that is the result of it. Members on this side of the Assembly hold dear the regular debate of the Schedule to the Appropriation Bill division by division. Indeed, members have comments on the vast majority of those divisions. What Mr Moore is attempting to do, while it might be technically possible to do, would be very much a backward step for the accountability of the Government's proposed budget and very much a backward step in the kind of debate that we might see in future on budgets that are put forward. Through the Estimates Committee and elsewhere, we have all criticised the lack of information, the lack of detail, from this Government in all of its budget proposals. To propose that we, in effect, have a one-line budget I find quite ludicrous. We will not be supporting the motion.

MR MOORE (4.04), in reply: I would just like to reply not so much to Mr Humphries - I can understand his position - but to Ms Follett, because I believe that she has misrepresented the situation. She said that there would be a one-line budget of $1.343 billion. In fact, that is not the case at all. I take her point that you would not have the opportunity to debate the appropriations line by line. I agree that that is the case. But taking the Schedule as a whole does not mean to say that you have not agreed to the divisions that are in place. Of course you have. That is part of the reason I want to move an amendment within that structure to ensure that the moneys are specifically moved from the Treasurer's Advance to division 180, government schooling. To suggest that we would end up with a single-line budget is simply nonsense and to suggest that we would therefore lose accountability is simply nonsense. To suggest that we would not have the opportunity to speak on issues line by line is true, but we have already had that opportunity through the Estimates Committee. It seems to me that there is a more important issue in taking the Schedule as a whole. A series of amendments could be moved to the Schedule taken as a whole, if that is what people wanted.

Mr Speaker, I think it is appropriate to clarify for members that we would not wind up with a single-line budget which Ms Follett implies would give the Government $1.3 billion to spend as they want. If she is saying that we would get a single vote, that is true; but if the Schedule were taken as a whole and voted on as a whole it would not mean that the Government would get $1.3 billion as a single-line item that they could spend as they wanted. That simply would not be the case. That is certainly how I understood Ms Follett from the way she presented her argument. If that is not the case, I do not know what she means. I would encourage members to support this motion.

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