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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 10 Hansard (13 October) . . Page.. 3060 ..

Mr Quinlan: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

MR HUMPHRIES: I will withdraw that if you wish. I suppose it is too late, as I have already said it.

MR SPEAKER: We will not allow that.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, we have indicated the costs of this exercise. We have costed it. If he wants us to cost this as well, we are happy to do it. But, again, the Assembly has asked us to do this and we intend to comply.

MR QUINLAN: I ask a supplementary question. Will the Treasurer attempt to offset the costs of these changes against the very considerable ministerial support budgets that exist today - something in the order of $30m? I trust that you did reasonably well out of the change when you copped the Treasury portfolio. I hope you got some of the money out of the Chief Minister's Department to back it up.

MR HUMPHRIES: I do not quite understand the question, Mr Speaker, to be quite frank. "Offset it against ministerial support budgets". First of all, ministerial support budgets are not anything like $30m. Secondly, costs associated with ministerial advice in many cases flow directly from requests and other requirements imposed on government or delivered to government through this Assembly.

One of the reasons that costs have risen in recent years with respect to provision of services to the Government in the chamber is that members are asking for more information than they were before, and we are providing more information than we were before. That is why those costs are high, Mr Speaker. Certainly more information is flowing now than was the case when Labor was in office, and, quite obviously, that is going to cost more money.

Will we offset it against ministerial support budgets? How do we do that? If we are having a draft budget, it means that Ministers, presumably, are going to front the various Assembly committees to explain the aspects of its budget with respect to those particular portfolio areas. There will have to be briefings and preparation for that, and that will be a higher cost. So I am afraid there will not be a reduced ministerial support budget; there will be an increased support budget, I would have thought, as a result of a draft budget. But, again, it is about including the Assembly in the process of formulating a budget.

You might not like what the Assembly committee recommended, Mr Quinlan, but you have also attacked us in the past for having ignored the results of Assembly committees. To quote the Chief Minister, you cannot have it both ways. You cannot say, "You have to treat these committees with respect, except when the Labor Party does not like the result, in which case you can ignore them". That is, as the Chief Minister said today, a classic case of having your cake and eating it too.

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