Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2366 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
Members have an obvious option to exercise in this case. They can decide that the Liberal Party should live by the stand it employed back in 1993 and they can reject this motion. They can decide that the principle enunciated by the then Labor Government was preferable and they can support this motion. It is a very clear choice before the Assembly. Quick and Garran refer to Hearn's Government of England in talking about this particular principle, and I quote what they say about that:
It is accordingly a fundamental rule of the House of Commons that the House will not entertain any petition or any notice for a grant of money, or which involves the expenditure of any money, unless it be communicated by the Crown. We are so accustomed to the general practice, and the deviations from it have been so inconsiderable, that its importance is scarcely appreciated. Those, however, who have had the experience of the results which followed from its absence, of the scramble among the members of the Legislature to obtain a share of the public money for their respective constituencies, of the "log-rolling", and of the predominance of local interests to the entire neglect of the public interest, have not hesitated to declare that "good government is not attainable while the unrestricted powers of voting public money and of managing the local expenditure of the community are lodged in the hands of an Assembly". This salutary rule has too often been evaded.
I also refer to May, in which it is stated:
The House of Commons has long found it necessary to place restrictions on the moving of amendments in order to keep intact the principle of the financial initiative of the Crown.
I would suggest that in the present circumstances, whereby the ACT operates in a similar circumstance to that of the parliaments which are our forebears - in particular, it operates in an environment where it is very likely, indeed almost certain, that governments formed in this place in the future will be minority governments - it is important that we put in place a mechanism to protect some rights on the part of the government to frame a budget and to be the sole arbiter of the contents of that budget.
I realise that in the present context Mr Moore will be angry that this excludes his amendments from being considered later in the day. I concede that he would prefer that there be a process of debating and formulating the budget in another way, particularly one that involved consultation with other members of the Assembly not merely in putting forward their point of view but also in being able to frame the budget. But I maintain that in the present system of government - a system that is not a council-style government, a system we have inherited both from pre-self-government days and from a system of government that is used widely around this country in respect of the second and first tiers of government - to change that arrangement so as to provide for some ad hoc capacity to formulate budget directions on the floor of the Assembly is not desirable. I put it to members of the Assembly that it is preferable for us to formulate and stand by a rule which provides for that particular prerogative to be reserved to the government of the day, whichever government it may be. I therefore commend this motion to the house.