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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4078 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

What is interesting me now is that Mr Humphries, in talking to my amendment, said it is necessary to impose on the committee discipline of this kind because everyone will want more, and this is the problem that government has to deal with. Therefore, we should, in some way, understand that and not give the Government that difficulty. He said that the Government's role is to balance considerations against other areas. Well, of course, that is the issue. The budget is a major policy statement because it is the view of the government of the day about what the priorities are and how they will balance those considerations. We would like to have that same opportunity and we are not able to have that opportunity. Then Mr Humphries raised a new aspect of the process as far as I am concerned. Maybe everyone else knew this but, as I understood it, Mr Humphries said that the Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration, which, in this motion, will get the draft total territory financial position, will have the ability to look at this issue of balancing.

I do not know whether I have misunderstood Mr Humphries but I am pretty sure that is what he said. In that case he seems to be saying that, as chair of a committee, I can put a submission to Mr Quinlan's committee, perhaps, and say, "I think your committee, in its deliberations, needs to take into account concerns that have come from my committee about total expenditure", but I am not allowed to make recommendations about total expenditure. I am not allowed to make recommendations about the need for more funding in my area because this motion stops me doing that. But I can then go and talk to Mr Quinlan's committee, apparently, and express concerns so that his committee can take it into account.

Mr Quinlan: No, I will not be able to do anything about it, though.

MS TUCKER: Well, it appears that you can make recommendations. If I have understood Mr Humphries correctly, he is saying that Mr Quinlan's committee can make recommendations about broad expenditure and the shifting of priorities. This process is getting even more confusing and bizarre if that is the case because, obviously, with this so-called discipline imposed on my committee, I am not going to be able to say anything about that.

I am also interested to know what I tell the community whom we are inviting to donate their time to the process. I guess I would have to say, as an opening statement to any community group, "We are interested in your opinion or your assessment of the particular portfolio area of the budget that you are concerned about, but you must know, if it is your view that this is inadequate expenditure, that we will not be able to communicate that in our recommendations". I just think this is a very unsatisfactory process.

MR KAINE (11.51): Mr Speaker, I must say, having spent a very large part of my life involved with bookkeeping and accounting, and having been a Treasurer of this Territory, that I find this exercise a Clayton's consultation process. What the Government is seeking to do is what the Chief Minister, time and time again, accuses the Opposition of wanting. The Government wants it both ways. Several times yesterday when she was addressing a matter she accused the Opposition of wanting it both ways.

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