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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4069 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

the community and it is absolutely clear that there is an area that needs more resourcing. Say we also can see absolutely clearly that there is nowhere else that we can fairly take money from. Then we cannot make a recommendation as a committee, on behalf of the community, that we can clearly see and are of the view that this Government is failing the ACT community by putting this amount of an appropriation into this particular area of activity. We will not be able to say that. Mr Humphries is saying, "But then everyone will just ask for more". That is why this process is flawed, because we have that opportunity when we look at the whole budget.

Mr Humphries knows that the Greens do come up with suggestions for increasing revenue. We have done. We always do. We look at where we can spend money differently. We do come up with suggestions about priorities. So that is where this whole system is flawed. Anyway, that is why we do not agree with it and with the way it has been broken up.

What my amendment is doing is just basically saying, "Okay, we are going to have to do this work". I have not done this work yet in this way, as the chair of a committee. I would like to know, having done the work, that I am not going to have limits imposed on what kinds of recommendations I make. There is obviously a political issue about whether we have freedom as a committee to make recommendations that we think are appropriate. For that reason, my amendment seeks to remove all words after "Committee" and to substitute the words "for inquiry and report". Basically it is just saying, "Yes, you have to do this work". We will do that work as a committee and we will do it as we always do it, diligently, but do not tell us what kinds of recommendations we can make, because I think that is an incursion on democratic processes and the committee system.

MR CORBELL (11.17): Mr Speaker, this is a proposal to put a muzzle over the bark of the Assembly. It is a muzzle on the voice of this Assembly, and this Assembly should not for a moment be prepared to accept such a proposition. I come to this debate having chaired the last Select Committee on Estimates for the budget that the Assembly agreed to earlier this year. I come to this debate as a member who sat on an Estimates Committee process prior to that.

I was not here to hear directly in the chamber Mr Humphries' comments when he introduced this debate this morning, but I do not think we heard a proposition that the Government would be prepared to support an Estimates Committee process if this process was put in place. Mr Humphries may want to reject that allegation and say we will have an Estimates Committee process, but there is a sinister agenda afoot here, and that is not understating it. Not only are we being asked to accept an agenda which puts us in the position of being complicit in the development of the Government's primary political tool, as Mr Quinlan quite rightly pointed out, the budget document; we are also being asked to effectively sign away our rights to properly scrutinise the budget through the Estimates Committee process when the budget is finally presented.

What other parliament in the Westminster system signs away those sorts of rights? The only type of parliament that signs away those sorts of rights is a parliament which is completely dominated by one grouping; a parliament dominated at the expense of the

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