Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2543 ..
MS TUCKER: Earlier Mr Humphries said that if any single division went down the Government would fold. He quoted from precedents set over half a century ago. Mr Humphries, time has moved on. What was appropriate then is not, in our view, appropriate now. If you do not get a line approved, then we believe that all you have to do is amend your budget. If you choose to take it as a no-confidence motion, that is your choice, Mr Humphries, not ours. The Liberals - the advocates of council-style government and of a modern approach to politics - are now refuting and reneging on those ideas and saying, "If we cannot have it our way, we do not want it at all". Again, that is your choice.
The Appropriation Bill is the most important aspect of a government's policy agenda. It outlines the government's spending priorities over the next three years. In a parliament such as ours, where the Government commands only seven votes, it is inappropriate for those spending priorities to be made without close consultation with other members. Some members of this place and members of the media may herald these few remarks by me as an attack on stable government. The Greens believe that stability of the legislature is an important responsibility of all members of this place. However, stability is not the sole responsibility of the crossbenches. The stability of this Government is affected by two related issues: Their performance as a government and the confidence that they hold of the other members of this place.
The stability of this Government, as it relates to the confidence that members of this Assembly have in it, cannot be affected by the votes of the two Greens or even the four crossbenchers in isolation. This is an important point. All four members of the crossbenches cannot determine who is to govern. This can be done only with the support of the six Labor members. In reality, Labor has a much greater ability to threaten the stability of this Government than any other party or group in this place, other than the Government.
This brings me to the fundamental role that a government has in ensuring that it creates the conditions for stable government. To be assured of stability, the Greens believe that the Government has a set of responsibilities. The Government has a responsibility to work with all members of this place to create the best possible outcomes for the people of Canberra. Many of the most important outcomes will be derived from the budget. The Greens also recognise that our constituents expect us to do all that we can to ensure good government. It is our belief that the budget brought down by this Government does not represent good government, and it is for this reason that we will vote against it. However, as I said before, this does not mean that we are withdrawing our support for this Government; it simply means that we are withdrawing our support for this Bill.
There have been few, if any, parliaments in the Westminster system that have been blessed with a minority government such as ours. For this reason, little work has been done to create participative processes and systems that ensure that all members have an opportunity to be meaningfully involved. The Greens believe that it is time that this place began to create those processes and to cease protecting the entrenched political power that the older parties are so keen to hang onto. It is no longer acceptable that the four Executive members of this place are given carte blanche to do what they will without fear or hindrance. In short, it is time that this Government took responsibility for every action that it takes and ceased to act as though support for it were guaranteed.