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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (20 June) . . Page.. 2184 ..

MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):

and this year just does not hold water. I have said that the government has the right to have its budget passed, particularly when it is in surplus. I will not be opposing this budget or tampering with it to set some sort of precedent.

I should mention that I have received quite a few form letters from teachers. I must say that those form letters were fairly simplistic in their nature and were all identical. They quoted selectively from a newspaper article that did not fully quote what I had said. I might say that I have a great deal of respect for those teachers who sent in these form letters. I know quite a lot of them and I would be happy to talk to any of them who choose to talk to me, rather than having the union's way of dealing with these sorts of matters through photocopied form letters. Mr Speaker, I will not be supporting this legislation. It involves sleight of hand and I will not be part of it.

MR CORBELL (3.34): Mr Speaker, from my perspective, there are really two important elements of this debate. The first is whether this bill is an appropriate mechanism to address the Labor Party's concern with the free school bus issue. The second is the substantive matter of whether it is appropriate to spend this amount of money on free school buses. I will address each of those in turn. Firstly, in relation to the procedure that Mr Berry has adopted on behalf of the Labor Party in relation to this proposal, you ruled, Mr Speaker, that there is nothing inconsistent with this approach in terms of the standing orders or the self-government act. It will be interesting to hear the comments of other members in this context, particularly Mr Rugendyke and Mr Osborne, because they have indicated that they believe that this is an underhanded way to try somehow to inflict damage on the government's budget. They have also suggested that it is simply not appropriate because the government is entitled to stand or fall on its budget. I ask Mr Rugendyke to cast his mind back 12 months.

Mr Kaine: That was different.

MR CORBELL: Mr Kaine interjects that that was different. What was different about it? We are yet to hear exactly what was different about Mr Rugendyke's approach then compared with now. What was different, except that he had declared his position? Is he really saying that it is different because he has not declared his position in this case? Is that what he is saying? I heard Mr Rugendyke's comments on ABC radio this morning. He argued that there was a difference. It seems to me that the only difference is that last year there was an issue that Mr Rugendyke felt passionately about and that is not the case this year. The approach by the crossbench members, particularly Mr Rugendyke, is inconsistent.

The government will say that this is the start of a slippery slope, that this is the start of the potential for other members and future oppositions or future crossbench members to inflict this approach on governments of either persuasion. The reality is that a government is not going to get any measure through this Assembly without the support of a majority of members and our electoral system, effectively, guarantees, except perhaps in very rare circumstances, minority government, which means that governments will have to command the confidence of members outside of their own ranks to get their legislation passed, including their money bills.

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