Page 4174 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 26 November 2013

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The government supports the staged process recommended by the expert reference group. I am open to debate on the final make-up and process for getting there, but we need to consider this genuinely and resolve it within the first part of this electoral term.

There will always be an opening for opportunistic opposition on this issue. But where we can put our differences aside and conduct a politically neutral debate about preparing for the demands of the future, we have a far greater prospect of a mature and reasoned public discussion. More Assembly members would allow for greater diversity and specialisation, more manageable workloads, higher quality committee work and stronger, more responsive governance overall. We have been given the legislative power to make this change and we have been given the rational, objective advice for the Assembly. Therefore, the Assembly needs to resolve this issue.

I thank members for their support for this bill. I think it will assist, with the ministry of five moving to a ministry of six in the first instance, and that would be my view on how to expand the cabinet in the short term. I think it will relieve existing ministers of some of the burdens of their heavy workloads at the moment. It will, of course, put more pressure on other members of the government in relation to servicing the needs of committees and the other work that the Assembly does. But at the moment, I need to manage the workforce pressures, which are significant and growing under the current executive, and the way to do that, with the support of the Assembly, is to expand the cabinet by one in the short term and then, when the Assembly resolves on the issue of the size of the Assembly, allow the cabinet over time to grow to nine ministers.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

Payroll Tax Amendment Bill 2013 (No 2)

Debate resumed from 31 October 2013, on motion by Ms Gallagher:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (10.44): The opposition will be supporting this bill. Notwithstanding our long-term dislike of payroll taxes as a tax on jobs, the bill does seem sensible in what it does. In fact, it probably makes the case for us that these are dreadful taxes. What it does is give a concession to those that employ a recent school leaver who has a disability. The concession comes in at two levels. For 13 weeks, but not less than 26 weeks, the concession is $2,000. For employment of more than 26 weeks the concession is $4,000. Employees must be aged between 17 and 24 years and must be employed for at least eight hours a week over the 13 or 26-week period.

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