Page 2330 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 28 June 2005

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Nonetheless, before I respond to this particular line in the budget, my own thinking about whether to agree to Mr Mulcahy’s amendment is that we do need to be quite careful. It is out of order, I know, but I still want to say this because it perhaps gives an indication of how I might act later this week. I do think that we need to be careful about the blurring between the government and the Assembly.

I guess the budget is the government’s major tool for enacting its program, which assumedly it went to the election with. We have got some comments about that, of course, which we will make later on. Nonetheless, I do believe that it is up to government to have control of the fine detail of the budget and it must take responsibility for that. In a sense, of course, as someone who is not responsible for the budget, that does make life a little easier and gives us that righteous role of criticism.

Our approach is that, where we do not like part of the budget, we might ask the government to go back and rework those areas. I am just remembering and being reminded that the Liberal government itself did this when the Assembly refused to pass a budget during the Liberal Party’s period of governance because that budget had the supervised injecting room in it. What happened was that the government was asked to go back, which it did. As a minority government, it could chose whom it would speak to from the crossbench and it chose to negotiate with the right wing independents rather than the more progressive members. Thus we saw the demise of an initiative which could have saved lives and provided a pilot study for the rest of Australia. I did not raise that to talk about the heroin trial but to talk about ways that the Assembly has acted in the past.

As a member of the estimates committee, a member of the public accounts committee and a member of the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure, I would like to note my support for recommendation No 12 of the estimates committee that suggested that $129,000 be reassigned for the Assembly Secretariat staffing needs. I do note that the government has rejected this recommendation but I feel that, as a result, there will be unsustainable workloads for a number of people in the Secretariat and in other positions in the Assembly because the work does not change; it has to be done. I think we all appreciate that it is done extremely well and makes the life of us, as members, an awful lot easier. I am sorry that we have not seen that reassignment of funds, but I would hope that next year we might see a few more resources for the Assembly.

I would like to take this opportunity, too, to highlight the estimates hearing discussion on the introduction of an environmental management system in the Assembly. Understandably, I am sure members will not be surprised to know that this is a move that I greatly support. The Secretariat was able to advise in the hearings that a number of measures were in place, that improvements had been made in regard to energy efficiency and that the clauses in the forthcoming new cleaning contract would reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. On the other hand, the Secretariat also advised that in the past it had not been able to document the improvements achieved by these measures. We believe an environmental management system would allow the Secretariat to document existing measures and set targets for future measures to make the Assembly an example in management for sustainability. Anyway, I understand that this matter will now be progressed by the Assembly administration and procedure committee.

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