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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (15 February) . . Page.. 235 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Look at paragraph (2) of the motion. It provides that the relevant draft budget documents be provided by the Treasurer to the presiding member of each standing committee. In other words, the Assembly is instructing the Treasurer to make the information available. Imagine what would have happened if several years ago there had been a motion before the Assembly instructing the Treasurer of the day, Ms Follett in those days, to provide Assembly standing committees with her budget before it was brought down at the appropriate time. The Labor Party would have gone ballistic. Indeed, they would have been entitled to, in my submission, because it is the government's prerogative to bring down it own budget.

Mr Berry: Why is it in your motion then?

MR HUMPHRIES: Because that is what we want to do, and we are seeking to overcome a problem with standing orders that prevents us from doing that. We were not proposing to move this motion today, except that there was clear advice from the secretariat to the Assembly that we could not have matters referred to committees without a motion of the Assembly to overcome a deficiency in the standing orders. Standing orders, we are informed, do not allow self-reference by Assembly committees on matters which it can be argued do not to fall within the Assembly committees' portfolio of responsibilities.

When, for example, a justice and community safety portfolio initiative package is referred to the Justice and Community Safety Committee, apparently that is more a budget matter than it is a justice and community safety matter. That is the argument that has been put. I do not comment on the validity of the argument. I only indicate that, if there is some doubt about it, it needs to be resolved; hence the motion before the Assembly today.

If the Assembly decides to amend the government's motion to require the government to do something with its budget it does not wish to do, that is not necessarily a precedent that I am entirely uncomfortable with. I think this process must continue. It would be very tempting to force the government which Mr Quinlan said is going to be elected in October, a Labor government, also to consult about its budget. That would be a very interesting precedent.

I am looking forward to the Assembly's reaction to Ms Tucker's amendment, but I make it very clear that once the precedent is established it will be there forever.

Debate interrupted.

Sitting suspended from 12.29 to 2.30 pm

Standing committees

Proposed reference-2001-2002 draft budget

Debate (on motion by Mr Smyth ) adjourned to a later hour, with precedence over executive business in the ordinary routine of business.

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