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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 9 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 2706 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

be very happy to exercise if the Assembly sees fit to pose that precedent. Perhaps it is a reflection of the long time it is since members of the Opposition in this place have sat on the government benches that they are prepared to make these sorts of precedents. I am sure that they will have cause to regret them one day; but, if they choose to, they can be certain that they will not see us siding with them when it comes to any winding back of the clock.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (3.54): Mr Speaker, I think this motion actually highlights a much more significant problem than the one about money that we are dealing with at the moment. The problem that it highlights is one that, I must say, I have had some concern about for quite a number of years; that is that the Chief Minister has the responsibility for setting the staffing allowances for members. I have always been of the view - and I think it is something that we need to revisit - that, in fact, the Speaker should be the one that is setting these allowances and the Speaker should make those allocations from within his budget. That is my view of it.

I have just spoken to the Chief Minister. I said to her, "That has always been my view. Do you mind my presenting that view now, and is it something that we ought to consider as an Assembly?". Mrs Carnell said, "No. That is a reasonable thing to put on the table". I think what this motion does is actually highlight a much more significant problem. It is a good time for the Assembly to look at its budget and how it does its budgeting. If, indeed, the motion were to pass, in my view, it would be entirely inappropriate for the Assembly to order the Government to spend money. I have opposed that sort of motion from the crossbenches for many years. However, I think there is some merit in some of the arguments put forward. It is a matter that ought to be dealt with within the Assembly budget.

Ms Tucker: It is a Territorial expense, Michael.

MR MOORE: Ms Tucker interjects, "It is a Territorial expense". Everything that the Assembly spends is a Territorial expense; but remember, Ms Tucker, the way our budget works is that there is an allocation of money to do certain things. If I want to do something new and different within Health, then I find the money within Health. If the majority of non-Executive members decide that they want to redistribute the money that they have - not just in staff allocations, but perhaps in travel or the amount of security that is provided in the Assembly, or whatever - then that is a matter that I believe ought to be the direct responsibility of the Speaker. He, in turn, would do what he always does, which is consult the Administration and Procedure Committee on these sorts of matters. I have been a member of that committee for quite a number of years.

It seems to me, Mr Speaker, that those are the choices that people have to make here. They ought not to be expecting the money to come out of thin air, because money does not come from thin air. The choice ought to be that the money comes out of the Assembly budget, if they believe that Mr Kaine deserves this extra funding. The one thing that we ought not to be doing, as I see it, as a matter of principle, is, on any issue, directing the Executive to spend money in a particular way.

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