Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 28 June 2005) . . Page.. 2329 ..
for staffing requirements; these requirements were sought as a consequence of a less than complimentary report from the Auditor-General; and, of course, the end effect of this being denied puts undue and, in my view, unreasonable pressure on the staff that are employed in this establishment to support the needs of the people in terms of implementation of the decisions of the Assembly and the needs of our members, particularly non-executive members on both sides of the Assembly.
When you do this to people, when you take an unreasonable position in terms of their operating budget, then the inevitable outcome is that services will continue to suffer. Whilst I accept that probably politicians are not the favourite species in our community in terms of what they cost and what funds are made available, I do believe that even the most cynical view out there at large would be that we should have appropriate resourcing to do the task at hand and that those people who work in this Assembly should be given the essential tools of trade to do their job.
We saw, in the course of estimates hearings, that, in fact, to live within their means, they have now had to forgo a position in the Secretariat. That, of course, further limits the capacity of this Assembly to do its task and to ensure that the work of the committees is adequately implemented. I have been publicly questioning whether the committees are adequately resourced—I do not think they are—to do the sort of task that we have. To see those resources further pruned back for a Secretariat that is struggling to make ends meet is something that troubles me. The tribunal has seen fit to improve the pay of members of the Assembly but, in the same breath or coincidental with that, the government takes a view of maintaining a very harsh view in terms of the Assembly’s resources.
The committee’s decision—and this is not a dissenting report but a committee decision—was that we should seek that these funds be made available. It is within the capacity of the government, I believe, to deal with that quite modest request in the total scheme of things. I would hope that the government might weigh up that demand, weigh up the fact that their own Speaker, a member of their own party, has put forward this request for funds and take into account the needs of those staff who are working in the Assembly and attempting to do their job with diligence, I am sure.
We need to be cognisant of the Auditor-General’s report. There was an expectation that certain additional functions were required to ensure financial integrity in the system. I think that the achievement of the Auditor-General’s recommendations must seriously be put at risk if we simply take a view that such a small and relatively paltry request would be denied.
I will conclude at that point on this area, but I would hope the government would reconsider the way in which they framed that appropriation.
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (11.30): Mr Speaker, there is no doubt that, for parties who are not in government, the budget provides a lot of frustration in that very often we, especially if we have been through the estimates process, can see ways in which the money could have been differently spent. Indeed, the majority estimates report does make a particular recommendation in regard to this one.