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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (27 May) . . Page.. 620 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Mr Speaker, I do not believe that there is a justification for this motion. I think it is important to allow us to be able to reasonably meet costs as they are incurred. It is not as if we are charging people who are in the category that Mr Berry has placed them in. I want to emphasise that. Mr Berry used highly emotive language in his support for this motion. He talked about people who are unemployed and about people who are desperately poor. I accept that there are some people for whom this sort of employment is absolutely critical as a means of staying off the breadline. But very often part-time employment is a choice made by people to suit their particular requirements or their particular lifestyles.

Sometimes the people concerned are employed elsewhere and require part-time employment to supplement their income. Sometimes the people concerned do not require full-time employment or would prefer not to have full-time employment because, for example, they might be raising children. They might not wish to work a nine-to-five day. Sometimes they are people who rely on this sort of employment. But it is wrong to do as Mr Berry did and portray all of the people as being in that category - I emphasise, Ms Tucker, all of the people in that category - as being people who are absolutely destitute, who desperately need that money and who otherwise would be out of pocket by that amount. Mr Speaker, it is a question of balancing from which pots we draw particular funding. In this case I would rather leave that money in the education pot, to spend on education services and the employment of teachers, than in some other pot.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (11.32): Mr Speaker, I have a keen interest in this issue. Having recently gone through a ministerial code of conduct, I think it is appropriate for me, although maybe technically not critical, to step aside from this debate, and certainly from a vote on this issue. However, I think some general principles ought to be taken into account. The questions that I think need to be asked in this debate are: To what extent should an employer pass administrative costs on to an employee and in whose best interests is it to get an outcome in passing those administrative costs on? In this particular case, because I am quite close to the issue, I think it appropriate that I stand aside.

MS TUCKER (11.33): Mr Speaker, I totally agree with Mr Moore's point - he did make one point - that this is about an administrative fee. My real concern, after having listened to Mr Stefaniak speak on this issue, is that what you cannot see is any clear overall consistent approach from government on this. We know that they have applied the purchaser-provider model. We know that government departments now have to show quite clearly where they are spending money. They cannot subsidise each other in any way, so we know what we are getting and what the outputs are. That is fine. That is about transparency so that we understand what we are getting for our money. My concern, now that we are able to see that we spend this much money on this particular administrative function, is that in light of the ideological approach of the Liberals, who like the concept of user pays, they will suddenly decide that this particular administrative function will be paid for by the citizen. Of course, the question is: Why this particular administrative function? There are a number of administrative processes that occur when someone applies for employment.

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