Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 9 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 2666 ..
MS CARNELL (continuing):
For these reasons, I will not support this motion. The Government will not be supporting this motion. I finish by suggesting to the Assembly that they should think very seriously about suggesting to the Clerk that he prune $28,000 from somewhere else within his Assembly budget, because that is what he will have to do.
MS TUCKER (11.27): I am supportive of Mr Kaine's motion but I propose an amendment to it. The timing of this motion has been a result of how business has been managed in the house and it has not been avoidable. The last time that we tried to do it I think Mrs Carnell was not here. Obviously this has to be completed today, which is a bit of a problem, because I would have liked Mr Moore to have been here, seeing as he has expressed support for the concerns that people in this place feel at the way Mr Kaine was treated when he moved from his position in the Liberal Party to be an Independent. We have had a number of moves from various parties to different positions. Obviously, the voters thought they elected Mr Moore as an Independent, but he became a Minister. The voters thought Mr Rugendyke was part of a grouping which had a similar policy approach. Mr Rugendyke, of course, is now not associated with that Osborne group. He apparently explains himself to be as a group, different from a party.
Mrs Carnell thinks Labor should be embarrassed. I would suggest that this whole place should be embarrassed at the arguments that have been put by Mrs Carnell and by what has actually happened in this place. The question about whether the taxpayers want to foot this bill or not is the question Mrs Carnell insists on continually asking. The question I want to ask is: What are the responsibilities of an Independent member in this Assembly, particularly in light of it being a minority government? Are the responsibilities of Mr Kaine any different from the responsibilities of myself as a lone member of the Greens Party or Mr Rugendyke or Mr Osborne? They are no different. We have the same responsibilities as Mr Kaine. We can all be in the position of being the critical number, although not as often as we might like, on any given issue in this place. The community expects that we be resourced adequately and equally to deal with that task. That is the issue that we are discussing here.
On the issue of how this would be paid for, Mrs Carnell said that we would have to have a second appropriation. I did understand that there were ways of dealing with extraordinary expenses and that this could be done. Honestly, the things that we see done by this Government at the drop of a hat for a lot more money than this are amazing. It just does not carry any weight at all when Mrs Carnell says that she cannot do it. Of course she can do it.
Mrs Carnell said that we do not want to give up our funding. If that seems extraordinary to Mrs Carnell, some of us in this place do respect the people we work with. We have a commitment to them. We have made contractual agreements with our staff to work with us. They often work very long hours. There is no way that it is acceptable for me as an employer to say suddenly, "Sorry, I am going to have to renegotiate all your contracts because the Chief Minister has decided not to offer equal resourcing to everyone in the Assembly who has the same responsibilities as Independents. We have to change your contract so that Mr Kaine will be adequately resourced". That is an absolute scandal. I suggest it is an insult to the people who work in this place, most of whom work extremely hard and are not particularly well paid.