Page 2699 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 28 June 2011

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determined by an Assembly law. Theoretically, if two parties in this place got together or nine members at any time got together, then we could expand the numbers.

So we just need to put on the record that this government could have four, could have five, could have six if it felt that it could do with only one backbencher. There would be nothing to stop it doing that if it wanted to seek a legal change. There would be nothing to stop the Assembly approving that if the Assembly saw fit. At the moment within the law, without changing a law of the Assembly, the government could go to five. But of course they have chosen not to. So I think it is worth getting that on the record.

There has been some confusion on this point over the years. But I think the self-government act is pretty clear. I think the Hawke review is pretty clear. If the Assembly chooses, it could certainly expand the ministry within the capacity of the existing 17 members that we have at the moment.

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Minister for Health, Minister for Industrial Relations and Treasurer) (5.27): I will speak only briefly to this line. This is an important line in the appropriation bill but I would like to point out to members that the efficiency dividend was not applied to the Legislative Assembly in the previous budget and it was applied to the ACT executive. So on those comments about tightening our own belt, we can say to you that we did tighten our belt. We did not tighten yours; we tightened ours.

Indeed, in the last year I think there has been a 40 per cent reduction in the travel budget for the ACT executive as well. So I think it is important to put that in context. In terms of my own travel, I have taken the decision, despite the Remuneration Tribunal’s determination, to travel economy on short-haul flights. I must say that I am terrified of flying; so it does not matter to me whether I am sitting in business or economy. I sit there with my white knuckles anyway. So I have no problem with that.

Mr Seselja: You do not get the glass of champagne to help you through.

MS GALLAGHER: No, I do not find it helps. I do not even get the special meal. I just take the special medication to get through the flight. So I have made my own decision for myself. It is one of the Remuneration Tribunal’s decisions. But it is there for other members to consider and I know that other ministers do consider that in terms of their overall allocation for travel.

In regard to Blackberry allocation, it is important to note that not every ministerial staffer has access to a Blackberry. They are provided to media advisers and senior advisers, as I understand. If there are to be further applications for Blackberries—and they all do come out of the individual office budget, they are paid for, and the Blackberries are expensive—it all has to be managed within the executive’s own office allocation. I think in this place members, both on the executive floor and on the non-executive floor, do operate within pretty tight budgets.

I do not think “affluent extravagance” are words that can be attributed to the Assembly as a whole. I think the executive works within a reasonable budget and I do not think there is a lot of wriggle room in both the non-executive and the executive in

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