Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2368 ..
MR CONNOLLY (continuing):
want to send this Government a message about its education budget, you can vote no to that line item, and then this arrogant Government will have to come back to this chamber and present another alternative. There is your option within the rules of the game. But we have always said that we will not tear up the rules of the game.
Mr Humphries referred in his speech to various extracts from the legal opinions. I discussed this with Mr Humphries this morning, and I seek the leave of the house to table and have incorporated in Hansard a series of legal opinions that have been circulating in this place in recent days and weeks. The debate this afternoon is going to be a debate of some importance for this Assembly. Mr Humphries said earlier on that we are going to establish the rules today. I would take issue with him somewhat there. I would say that we are going to affirm what the rules are. I would say that there would be significant advantage to members of future parliaments if these opinions, which have been circulated, are incorporated in Hansard, for ease of reference in the future. I seek leave to table and incorporate, firstly, the opinion of Mr Barram, Acting Director, Parliamentary and Constitutional, to Mr McRae of 10 November; secondly, the advice of Mr McRae to you, Mr Speaker, of 14 November 1995; thirdly, the advice of Mr Len Sorbello of 4 October 1995; fourthly, the advice of Mr Len Sorbello of 28 September 1995; and, finally, my advice of 9 November 1995.
Documents incorporated at Appendix 6.
MR CONNOLLY: I will not go into those documents to the extent that Mr Humphries has done, other than to say that they are all of one view. It was the Labor Party that first came out publicly and tabled its view of the law to say why we believed, as a matter of high constitutional principle, that you cannot amend budgets. It is disappointing that there have been political games played with this principle right up to this afternoon, when Mr De Domenico interjected and said, "Well, go on then, amend the budget". We on the Labor side for 100 years have played within the rules. In this place, back to the First Assembly, even when we were in opposition - because this issue first arose significantly at the time Ms Follett was tabling her proposed Bill of Rights and that was ruled out of order - we have always said that, while private members have the ability to move legislation, the budget can be moved only by the government and amendments to the budget may not be moved other than by government Ministers. It is a matter of high constitutional principle, for the reasons Mr Humphries set down.
Mr Humphries referred extensively to the procedure and law of the House of Representatives, the procedure and law surrounding, in effect, section 56 of the Commonwealth Constitution. He quoted at length from Quick and Garran. The circle can be closed by referring to the explanatory memorandum in the House of Representatives to the amendments to the self-government Act of 1992, which are referred to in my opinion. That was a series of amendments following the confusing series of legal advices on the extent of the ability of private members to move private members legislation. We had always maintained that the ability, in effect, matched the provisions of private members in the House of Representatives, though there were some views to the contrary.