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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (23 March) . . Page.. 661 ..

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (10.36): Mr Speaker, the Opposition will be supporting the Legislative Assembly (Members' Staff) (Amendment) Bill. The Bill is designed to allow members of the Assembly to engage contractors and consultants. As the situation stands, there is an impediment to the engagement, by members of the Assembly from their allocation for staff, of contractors and consultants which, in practice, in the view of the Opposition, does create unnecessary difficulties.

The Labor Party is, of course, committed to the need for workers as a rule, throughout the ACT and Australia, to be able, if it so suits their circumstances, to gain permanent employment, and in supporting this legislation we are certainly not suggesting that we espouse the casualisation of the labour force. Having said that, there are occasions when employment of a contractor or a consultant is not only necessary but appropriate and does suit the exigencies of the time. As I said, the current arrangements within the Assembly make the employment of specialists for short-term appointments rather convoluted. This legislation simplifies that process. We support it. We believe that it adds to the range of strategies available to members of the Assembly to employ staff.

MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (10.38), in reply: Mr Speaker, I thank the Opposition for the support for this legislation. It has been around for a very long time in this Assembly. Members will be aware of the Prasad review of members' salary arrangements which occurred a couple of years ago now. I think the amendments, which allow members more flexibility to employ consultants and contractors to assist them in dealing with the sorts of matters that we have, will be very useful. Mr Speaker, I am sure all members agree that the sort of work we do in this place does tend to have peaks and troughs, shall we say. There are times when you need more staff, times when you can do with fewer, times when you have major projects, and times when you do not. I am sure that the approach that this Bill takes right across the board will allow that flexibility to members. Also, of course, staff employed under these provisions will know exactly what the scenario is.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.





Debate resumed from 26 November 1998, on motion by Mr Smyth:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

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