Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 9 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 2660 ..
MR KAINE (continuing):
(2) the Chief Minister make a new non-discriminatory determination, to be effective from today to ensure continuity of employment to all staffers, without detriment.
Mr Deputy Speaker, I must say that I move this motion today rather reluctantly, but members who have been following this matter will know that today is the fifteenth sitting day since the determination was made and such a determination is disallowable only within a period of 15 sitting days, so if I do not move today I no longer have the opportunity to do so. I felt that it was necessary for me to do so because the determination that I am referring to here is discriminatory. I do not believe that this place ought to allow discriminatory determinations, of whatever nature, to stand unchallenged.
If people have a look at the determination - and I wonder whether members of the Assembly other than me have actually seen a copy of the determination - they will see that it sets out staff salary allowances for a number of classes of people. One section talks about the Leader of the Opposition, but the second section talks about the Government Whip, the Opposition Whip, backbench members and Independent members. If you look at the allowances made, according to this document, there are only three crossbenchers or Independent members. That of course is grossly in error. My name appears there listed amongst backbenchers. By no means can I be described as a backbencher. I have not been one for about five months now. The document, when it was promulgated, perpetrated a myth in terms of my status and standing in this place.
In fact, it would be incorrect even to describe me as an Independent member, because I happen to be the leader of a separate party. I will come to the basis of that distinction in a minute. But the fact is that this document is discriminatory and it includes my name listed amongst a category of people to which I do not belong. The consequence of that is that I receive a staff salary allowance of something close to $30,000 less than do my three crossbench colleagues. There is an error there which in effect introduces discrimination, and I believe that it needs to be changed.
Other members of this place may argue that there is discrimination from other aspects that have to do with whether the allowance payable to a backbencher, whether of the Government or the Opposition, is adequate and appropriate. That is a separate debate. I make no point of that, because, as a backbencher, I accepted that the amount of money allocated here was in accordance with principles spelt out by an independent reviewer, Mr Prasad, some time ago. I accepted that that was a level that was reasonable at the time, but that of course is a matter for debate at any time.
I refer to Mr Prasad because Mr Prasad set down some principles which determine relationships. He did not so much set down an actual amount of money that should be paid to various classes of people in this place but he did set down some principles and relationships. He made a distinction, for example, between office-holders, the Leader of the Opposition, the party Whips, Independent members and minor party members. That is why I referred earlier to the fact that even if I were properly included amongst the crossbenchers here it would still be improper to refer to me as an Independent member, because I am not an Independent member and have not been since my party was registered some time ago. I think that needs to be rectified as well.