Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 9 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 2713 ..
MR BERRY (4.23): I want to go back in time a little bit and give a version of events which people may not have wanted to come up in this Assembly. I think it is a good thing that we are debating this issue, because very little is ever heard about the staff salary allocations of Assembly members, and they are an issue for those in the ACT who pay their taxes. The first Independents to approach a government for an increase in a salary allocation - it was in the days of the Follett Labor Government - were Mr Moore and Ms Szuty. Mr Moore and Ms Szuty wanted a bigger staff salary allocation; otherwise, they could not guarantee that the then Labor Government's legislative program would be able to get through. They said they would need more staff to help them scan all of the legislation. You can read that as code for: "If you do not want your business held up, pay up". I suppose you can look back on the decision the then Government made to pay up and say that that might have been the start of the rot. On balance, it was felt that if one wanted to get their business through, Mr Moore and Ms Szuty would have to be paid an extra staff salary allocation. It was agreed to. I do not recall that Mr Moore ever worried about where the money was coming from, though he was worrying about it in a rather pious way today.
Subsequently the issue of salary allocations for Independents has spread. Later, or at about the same time, Mr Moore and Ms Szuty, who were elected on the Moore ticket, separated to call themselves each Independents so they could be entitled to a larger salary allocation. This has become a practice. After the last election the Osborne group, effectively a political party for all presentation purposes, came to this Assembly, and in the very early days of sittings of this Assembly Mr Moore, Mr Osborne and Mr Rugendyke declared themselves as Independents. I should say that Mr Moore ran with a running mate in the last election as well. But this Independent status was to get hold of the bigger staff salary allocation. Mr Osborne reminds us that he, his colleague Mr Rugendyke and Mr Moore got together and, in a most scientific way, worked out how their staff salary allocation should be improved. They averaged out other people's and judged that theirs should be equal. They went and did a deal, with the Chief Minister. They said, "We think we are entitled to this", and the Chief Minister agreed. The deal was consummated and they had an extra $40,000 or so between them.
Did they ask the Chief Minister then where the money was coming from? I think not. I think they just said, "We want it". Did the Chief Minister say, "This is conditional on whether I can find it and whether I can judge whether this could have been anticipated before I go to the Treasurer's Advance or some other place."? No, of course she did not. She just paid up. That was part of a deal. It is interesting that today in question time Mr Kaine raised that very issue about where the money came from.
The Chief Minister protested that she could not provide the money for Mr Kaine because, as she interjected later on, it was anticipated because I had put a motion on the notice paper. Curious indeed! My motion has not come up, and it will not. These curious reasons why Mr Kaine cannot be paid have come up. Indeed, the Chief Minister even argued that Mr Kaine could not get more because he did not get as many votes as other people. Does that mean that people who get more votes than Mr Kaine should get more money? No, of course, that is not the case at all. It was a silly argument. It was grasping at straws.