Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 10 Hansard (13 October) . . Page.. 3055 ..
MR QUINLAN (continuing):
possibly inconvenience a lot of the staff of this Assembly, in an exercise which, as I have contended, is probably based on political motives far more than any desire for participation by the Assembly as whole in the budget preparation.
I have to say, Mr Speaker, that what I heard today from the Government in their argument against this process was disappointing. I am a little deflated inasmuch as I did not hear any cogent argument. What I heard was: "We can't produce the information. It's too hard. Anyway, you have got it to start with". Either way, one of those claims is right and one of those is not. I suggest the true picture is that we are provided with numbers in the regular reports and the Government does not stand by those numbers that we receive in the quarterly reports. If it does, it is then only a matter of transcribing those numbers, those forward estimates, into the budget.
It is only a matter of the Government having a little think, from time to time, about what is the likely outcome for the budget, for the given year, occasionally through the year. I thought that was what they did. I thought that was what they were here for. If the Government is at all fair dinkum in its claim that it wants participation from this place, then the Government should provide the information.
If they wanted our participation they would have been bending over backwards to provide that information in a cogent form we could all refer to, fit in our briefcases and take home so that we can read it into the wee small hours of the morning, for excitement. And when we actually do our work, we would have the information in one place. We would have the confidence that the Government has made its best effort to share with us the knowledge they have.
What this Bill is saying to the Government is: "We want to know now what you know now. If we are to join, we are collectively to become responsible for the budget and the outcomes, then we want as much knowledge as you have got". Everybody in this place is aware of the imbalance of resources between the government and non-government members of the Assembly.
Mr Hird: And the backbenchers.
MR QUINLAN: Particularly backbenchers, yes, Harold. So I have support over there. Everybody is aware of the difference in the availability of resources and support. You only have to look out that door, that corner, at question time to see the bevy of people there to support government. There is a fax machine; I think we tried a laptop computer at one stage; we were right up to date with the technology to assist the Government. They want to be in a position to forestall any criticism of, and genuine participation in, the process by members of this Assembly; then, at the same time, claim we are not involved, we do not have valid suggestions to make.
You cannot have it both ways. The massive contradiction in the arguments brought forward by both Mr Humphries and Mr Smyth and the deliberate red herring of annual reports brought forward by the Chief Minister are indications of the level of real information that person is prepared to visit upon this particular place.