Page 1846 - Week 06 - Thursday, 5 May 2005

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There needs to be a bit of history given. If the Labor Party were so interested in this subject, they would actually consult with people. Members of the opposition became aware of this motion—I suppose the same was the case for Dr Foskey—when we read it on the draft notice paper for listing business on Tuesday at the administration and procedure committee meeting. I had a coy note from Mr Gentleman after that saying that he would really like to discuss it. I suggested that yesterday, Wednesday, would be a good time and at 9 o’clock this morning Mr Gentleman came into my office to discuss this motion.

The problems that the Liberal opposition have with this motion are many. The terms of reference are entirely inadequate and are just a rhetorical flourish by those opposite as an opportunity to bash the commonwealth. When the government have got nothing else to do—when they have no more shots in their larder, when they have a pathetic budget that is showing that we are driving deeply into debt—what do they do? They come out with a little bit of commonwealth bashing, the same as we had with Ms Porter’s motion yesterday afternoon.

Quite frankly, the Liberal opposition, while wanting and being quite willing to talk about, discuss and inquire into the impacts on working families and how we might improve their lot, are not prepared to sign up to these terms of reference. I suggested to Mr Gentleman this morning that, if he was really interested in looking after the interests of working families, we would not debate this motion today; that we would have some discussion during the break and, if we could come up with acceptable terms of reference, he could bring it back when we next sit in June and that at that time we would willingly sign up to it.

I also suggested that, if they were really interested in looking after the interests of working families, the Labor Party might extend to all members of the Assembly the courtesy of being involved in this process. But the government want the committee chairmanship, and that really is the nub of it. The government want the committee chairmanship because they need to give some of their backbenchers a bit of a pay rise. To run a 16-month inquiry into working families is a disgrace that gives somebody on the back bench over there roughly a $15,000 pay rise. That is what this is about. We are looking at a $90 million deficit next year and we will have Mr Corbell swanning around Portland, Oregon, Florida and Disneyworld and the garden suburbs of London, and we will have one of the Labor backbenchers, presumably Mr Gentleman, voting himself a pay rise.

We have looked at Mr Gentleman’s reasons for introducing this motion, one of which relates to the grants commission’s cutbacks to the ACT. If you really want the grants commission to work for you, what you have to do is to go out and advocate for the ACT in the grants commission. The other day, at the budget reply at the convention centre, Mr Quinlan said that, back in 1997, there was a windfall gain because the grants commission changed the multiplier from 0.9 to 1.1 for the ACT. How did that happen? It happened because the then Treasurer, Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister and the entire cabinet turned up on not one but a number of occasions.

I was privileged to be there. I thought that they were absolutely up against it and that nothing would happen, but they were persistent and they turned it around. They went out

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