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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4073 ..

Mr Corbell: Give up your job.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, could I have a little bit of order?

MR SPEAKER: Yes. Would members please stop interjecting and talking?

MR HUMPHRIES: It is a bind, isn't it? You have to decide whether to transfer between different areas or to raise more revenue and put up the taxes. The point is that that is a discipline that falls on the Government.

Mr Quinlan: Can I have half your department? Do half the job. Can I have half the department?

MR HUMPHRIES: I will come to that in a minute. We now ask the Assembly committees who want to see this budget in draft form, who have asked for that viewing of the budget in draft form, to take the same approach that falls on the Government. It is an accurate replication of the pressures that the Government faces in framing its own budget. We cannot just say, "Oh, there is unmet need in health. We will put up spending in health and forget about having to worry about where the money is coming from". We do not have that luxury and, with respect, I do not think the Assembly committees can have that luxury either.

Mr Quinlan has raised a question about resourcing for this and it is a reasonable question. I want to point out to members that the process we are going through here is very similar to the process in which Ministers find themselves in the same circumstance. Mr Kaine, Mr Berry and Mr Wood have been in that position and will know the truth of this. We are presented with a set of bids from the departments. We are told, "We need to spend money on this; we want to spend money on that; we have to do this and we have to do that". Ministers come together in a committee. The committee is called "Cabinet" and the Cabinet has to wade through these bids, these requests, these demands, these blandishments, if you like, from various agencies and decide what we can afford to spend and what we cannot. Agency heads come to Cabinet and they give Cabinet advice. These committees of the Assembly, Mr Speaker, will also have the benefit of advice from - - -

Mr Berry: It is a giant stunt, Gary.

MR HUMPHRIES: That is your view, Mr Berry. These committees will also have the benefit of advice from members of the Public Service. The Government proposes to make senior public servants available to brief the committees on the budget and to answer questions about the process. I see no reason why, for example, the Standing Committee on Health and Community Care should not have the head of the Department of Health and other officials of the department in front of it and ask exactly the same sorts of questions that the Cabinet would be asking of that department head when the matter of the health portfolio comes before Cabinet. It is exactly the same process, and the resources that you have in front of you are exactly the same as the resources we have in front of us. If you say, "We want more information about this", then, within reason, that is the request that the department has to take on board. They are the same kinds of

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