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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (13 June) . . Page.. 1594 ..

MRS BURKE (continuing):

the Assembly have gone into politics with the belief that they just have to accept that this is the way it is. Does this make it right? I do not think so.

I believe-as do people like me-that I have to speak out to ensure that we preserve what has been a tried and tested means of governance for hundreds of years. We all need to understand why conventions and standards of conduct are important. But we have recently seen those standards slip badly in this committee process. It is only if we have the intestinal fortitude and the boldness to speak up for what we believe in that the best of what we have can be preserved and change for the better can occur.

I am often told that politics is a game. All I can say is that I did not enter politics to play games, boys. I am here because I have the courage of my convictions to stand up for justice and equity within our system of governance for the good of the whole community. I will not be pushed aside easily. I urge all of us in this place to quietly contemplate our true reasons for entering this very rewarding profession, to quote Ms Tucker. We must demonstrate to the Canberra community that we truly and sincerely have their interests at heart and not, as it would appear at this moment, our own self-serving agenda. Politicians in this country are in great danger of fast losing their credibility.

Finally, Mr Speaker, there is much ability and potential within our Assembly. It is high time that this was realised, and it can be if every member personally resolves to make it so.

MR KAINE (12.18): Mr Speaker, I must say that sitting on the crossbenches gives one a totally different perspective of debates about budgets, estimates committees and the like. I did not participate in the Estimates Committee this year and I did that quite deliberately. I think I have served my time on estimates committees over the last 12 years.

Mr Quinlan: Please come back.

MR KAINE: So I had a year off this year and I will be back next year. From what I have observed, Mr Speaker, there has been nothing exceptional about this year's budget process or Estimates Committee process when you consider that this is an election year. Mrs Burke got all upset because people made the issue political. Well, the whole budget process has been a political process this year. The Treasurer's budget this year is clearly aimed at the upcoming election.

There were one or two things about the budget that I did not particularly like, and we can discuss them later this week. But, by and large, the budget was what you would expect it to be, coming from a government just short of an election. The same thing can be said about the Estimates Committee process. I suppose it is true to say that if governments can be political with their budgets, then oppositions and other members of the Assembly can be just as political in their critique.

So, as I say, I have not seen anything exceptional in the budget process or the Estimates Committee process, given that this is an election year. The only exception to this, Mr Speaker, is the blatant attempt by the government to abrogate and set aside the standing orders of this Assembly by trying to deliver this morning its own report on the

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