Page 2089 - Week 06 - Thursday, 26 June 2008
the very first week I came into this place, I was told, “Don’t ask them to do research. It’s not Parliament House here. It’s not like the Victorian parliament or anywhere else.” You can get a few newspaper clippings and the like, but that is unsatisfactory. You cannot constantly apply a parsimonious approach to important things such as parliamentary services.
I had dinner on Wednesday night with some people on the hill—from the Liberal, National and Democrat groupings; it was a very ecumenical affair. What they said to me about the library was that they have a joint committee that is bipartisan. The chair revolves between the different major parties. That is the way they run it. It ensures that there is no partisan influence on it but it is very much a creature of the parliament itself. I think there is merit in either doing it properly or just getting rid of it altogether. I hope that that can be resolved soon.
Dr Foskey: That is a bit rough.
MR MULCAHY: Dr Foskey says that it is a bit rough, and I agree: I would rather not see it go. But I do not think it is working properly at the present time. We need to end the impasse between this place and the government’s involvement in running that facility.
Madam Assistant Speaker, you know probably better than most my views on many of the improvements that could be accomplished in this place. I have always wished that this parliament would be a cutting-edge legislature—like we try and declare the rest of Canberra is in terms of our standards and education facilities. It is not. There are many quaint little things. You cannot get colour printing here. I am funding that; I am putting in equipment in my office at my expense. I am not as incapable of funding these things as possibly some other people are who might come in, but I have never been in a work environment where people working in the place are expected to fund their own tools of trade. It is unique. It is something that I think is unacceptable. I hear members complain about it, although they rarely do publicly.
The fact of the matter is that people raise the matter with me in absolute amazement that these things go on here. People say to me, “It’s extraordinary that you can’t get internet email messages onto to your PDAs.” I was told when I arrived here that it is for security reasons. The Chief Minister does not even have a bodyguard or a driver. What is the security issue here? Federal MPs apparently are not of such significance; they can have direct link to emails off their IT networks. But apparently the ACT Assembly is a far more serious institution that cannot extend these concessions. I suggest it is probably for financial reasons, not for security reasons, but we ought to be equipping members here with the resources needed.
I certainly support the appropriation. As I have said to the Clerk, I think you need to up the appropriation and ensure that it maintains an appropriate level of indexation. I constantly hear that we do not have enough money to do things. I do not think that they are just the normal bleatings that people have about budgets. I would like to see us improve things—improve the technology in this place: maintain the integrity of this chamber, but provide the appropriate level of resources that members might reasonably expect to do their job.