Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 2262 ..
MRS DUNNE(11.31): Mr Deputy Speaker, in rising to speak on part 1.1 of the appropriations schedule, I want to echo the words of my leader. I think that over the years, and I speak from the experience of having been a staffer, the remuneration for staff across-the-board in this place has not fairly represented the amount of work done, often done by very experienced people with a lot of background. As members, quite frankly, we cannot remunerate our staff to reflect the amount of work they do, the amount of expertise that they have built up over the years and the considerable efforts that they put in on our behalf and on behalf of our constituents. It is very difficult for members of this place to serve their constituents with the meagre staff that they have.
I would just like to draw some analogies between how we operate in the ACT and how members operate in other parliaments. In the ACT, we are members of multimember electorates. In the electorate of Ginninderra, as we all know, there are five members and there are 100,000 electors. I cannot say that I am only going to look after 20,000 electors. I am a member for all the 100,000 people in my electorate.
Bill Stefaniak and I cannot divide up the people between us and say that he will look after half the Liberal voters and I will look after the other half of the Liberal voters or divvy them up between the two of us. It does not work like that. You are there for every person in your electorate every day of the week, and your staff are there for them.
When you do not have the time to take the calls, your staff are the ones who are taking them and your staff are the ones who are dealing on a day-to-day basis with people's trauma, with people's incapacity to get their message through to government, and with solving their problems with the bureaucracy. Often times that extends beyond just the ACT bureaucracy, but it involves giving people a hand along the way.
I take as an example the South Australian parliament because it is something I know about as I have a friend who is a member of the South Australian parliament. Members of the South Australian parliament have an electorate of 20,000 people and a suburban electorate covers about six square miles. With 20,000 electors and six square miles, after two or three terms you actually know your electors; you know who they are and they know you very well. That means that you can deal with their needs.
Members of the South Australian parliament, although not as well served as members of the federal parliament, are much better served in terms of staff and allowances to get their message out to people and to help people than we are in this place, dealing with 100,000 electors and 100 square miles of electorate. And then there is the amount of work that is done in this place by the chamber secretariat and by the committee secretariat. Speaking on behalf of my own committee, I know about the work that is done by it and, therefore, the amount of work that is required to be done-
Mr Quinlan: Why don't you cut down on the questions on notice that never go anywhere?
Mr Corbell: It is volume masquerading as activity.