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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 1696 ..

MR BERRY (8.49): Look, what a - - -

MR SPEAKER: Here we go. It is amazing, is it not? Anything dealt with late at night seems to encourage more and more comment.

MR BERRY: Mr Speaker, you are free to come down here on the floor and debate these issues as well.

MR SPEAKER: I am just trying to progress the matters, Mr Berry, as you well know.

MR BERRY: What an outrageous approach! The point that my colleague made was that the support that Ministers get does not end just outside their doors. You would think we came down in the last shower. They get a lot of management and policy support from within their departments. I think the point that my colleague was making was that the overall cost of policy and ministerial support and so on is probably larger than is expressed in the papers. I think it is a good point. For the Chief Minister to climb to her feet and make those silly inane statements about suggestions just belittles the process. The point was well made that Ministers use more than what they have in their office, significantly more.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (8.51): The point is not well made at all. It is silly. Mr Quinlan knows it is silly. Taking my own portfolio as an example, what are we supposed to do? No longer develop a policy on mental health or no longer develop a policy on drugs and alcohol? No longer develop a policy on disabilities? Is this the suggestion you are making? With that goes, of course, no consultation process, and no role for purchasing and providing. No, sorry; providing is separate. None of the purchasing roles? It was a silly suggestion. Mr Quinlan knows that was the case.

The more interesting issue here is that the payment for the ACT Executive on behalf of the Territory is $2.5m, but for the Legislative Assembly Secretariat it is $2.78m. The comparative support that we are talking about is at this level. Obviously the Government has a responsibility to develop policy and to purchase services from the range of providers, and that is what this money does.

Unfortunately, Mr Quinlan has taken a very simplistic approach. One could believe that it was done deliberately, except that I give Mr Quinlan more credit for that. Mr Quinlan knows exactly how this money is used. He knows that if this budget was knocked off and he became a Minister tomorrow or the Treasurer, he would use this same range of policy support. If he was a Minister he might use less of this money for policy and more for provision, and I think that is a reasonable method of going about it. I think, to be fair, he would have to point out where he would do that, but I think it is a valid suggestion. That would be one that I would be quite interested in. Tell us in which areas you believe we can reduce our levels of staffing in terms of the policy area and still get the positive outcomes that you would expect from the ability to purchase appropriately and so on. That is valid, but let us do it properly.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

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