Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2365 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
The Executive Government is charged with the management of revenue and with payments for the public service.
It is a long established and strictly observed rule which expresses a principle of the highest constitutional importance that no public charge can be incurred except on the initiative of the Executive Government.
The Executive Government demands money, the House grants it, but the House does not vote money unless required by the Government, and does not impose taxes unless needed for the public service as declared by Ministers of the Crown.
We can, I think, extrapolate in this case Ministers not of the Crown, as is the case in the ACT. I will not go into the detail of the background to the formulation of that rule, but it is clearly a device to protect the Executive. It is clearly a device which historically has prevented executive government from having its decision-making process in respect of budgets and budget appropriations tossed about, distorted, abused - whichever term you wish to use - by other non-Executive members of the parliament. I had never realised that the financial initiative of the Crown would cause so much merriment and mirth, but I am glad to see that someone is enjoying this dissertation.
The issue before us today is the extent to which issues given rise to by the amendments to be moved later today by Mr Moore, Mr Osborne and the Greens in particular should be vented on the floor of the Assembly in the form of amendments or whether this doctrine of the financial initiative of the Crown ought to operate so as to prevent such amendments from coming forward. I obviously concede that the Government, from the vantage point of government, views the protection offered by this doctrine much more favourably than it did two years ago. I readily concede that a different perspective is thrown on the way in which we approach this matter by virtue of our occupation of the treasury bench. It seems to me - put it how you will, Mr Speaker - that the Assembly stands now in the position of having to decide whether the practice which was arguably first given small rise to back in 1993 should be extended and continued - - -
Ms Follett: By you.
MR HUMPHRIES: I concede that, Ms Follett - whether it should be allowed to continue, indeed to expand, in the way the amendments before the house today indicate.
Let me be frank: I think the Liberal Party in 1993 took a step which certainly suited our desire to express anger on behalf of the community about a government that was prepared to refuse to continue with a program to rationalise school numbers but was prepared in almost the same breath to proceed to sack teachers as a solution to that problem. I concede that that was attractive to us in that context. I also indicate to the Assembly that I think it is unfortunate that, in doing so, it was necessary to compromise the process whereby government was able to make effective decisions in the course of framing and presenting its budget. I think we should clarify the situation for the future, and that is what I propose to do today.