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Extra minister 'to cost a million'

Date

Lisa Cox

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

The ACT government would have to spend an extra $1 million to increase the number of territory ministers from five to six.

But Chief Minister Katy Gallagher says she will draft legislation in 2013 to change the ACT's self-government Act to allow for the addition.

The opposition is likely to support the move but says the cost would be more easily justified if the government had not given Greens Minister Shane Rattenbury a "$1 million" staffing allowance for his office.

Ms Gallagher made it clear after the October election that the Assembly workload was becoming less manageable for five ministers.

In an end of year interview with The Canberra Times, the Chief Minister said she hoped to take on an extra minister in the new year and that could be done without approval from the federal government. "I've got it on the legislation program, we actually have to amend the self-government act and it has to go through that process," she said.

"That will lengthen the time [it takes].

"It's something I said I'd like to do within the first year but, as with all things, it doesn't come easily."

Ms Gallagher said the government would have to consider several factors before increasing the ministry, including the logistical issue of where a new minister's office would actually fit in the Legislative Assembly building in Civic, as well as the cost to the ACT.

"It would probably come at about an extra million dollars," she said.

"I'm not sure of that figure in total, you'd have the minister's salary - about $170,000 - and then a staffing allocation of about $500,000 and then associated on-costs with that.

"So it's another balancing-up act. Is that what we can afford?"

The government would also have to consider whether it could afford to promote a backbencher to the ministry, which would mean it would have fewer MLAs who could sit on the Assembly's committees. But the Chief Minister said that if the number of ministers was not increased the workload would become unmanageable by the time the Assembly reached its term in 2016.

A panel is also assessing whether the number of MLAs should be increased from 17 to 21 or 25.

"I think by the time the city's 400,000 and you're dealing with the issues of a place of that size it's going to get too much," Ms Gallagher said.

"I'm trying to avoid the point where governance and government actually suffers."

Canberra Liberals leader Zed Seselja said the party had never objected to increasing the size of the government cabinet.

"The cost would be more easily justified if the Green/Labor government hadn't given the Greens Minister a $1 million staffing allocation," he said.

In November, The Canberra Times reported that that Greens minister Shane Rattenbury had been given a $790,000 staffing allowance, which was more than both the Deputy Chief Minister and the Opposition Leader.

7 comments

  • So much waste in local Government. Can I get a sound bite from the now very quiet Mr Rattenbury to identify where the saving will come from in his portfolios?

    Commenter
    Outraged of Palmerston
    Date and time
    December 31, 2012, 9:32AM
    • Rather than having an additional Minister at an additional cost, why not impose an efficiency dividend on the existing Ministry to fund the position? - ie fund the additional Minister within existing funding allocations. As this concept is good enough for the Public Service, surely it is good enough for the Government's Ministry.

      Commenter
      Steve
      Date and time
      December 31, 2012, 11:46AM
      • Has this been approved by our Lord Mayor Rattenbury?

        Commenter
        pete
        Date and time
        December 31, 2012, 12:09PM
        • What a joke.

          More waste of tax payers money and a recipe for a deeper budget deficits without looking at their own inefficient inept activity called government.

          Commenter
          View
          Date and time
          December 31, 2012, 12:10PM
          • I see we have the usual rogue's gallery of right-wing comments all complaining bitterly as usual. A professional, well-run government costs money. It can't be done on the fly or on the cheap. There's a ridiculous, oft-repeated illusion that the ACT government is nothing more than a glorified town council but the reality is our local government has a complex set of portfolios with huge administrative and legal obligations. These commenters with their notions of small-government and enforced austerity consistently display financial illiteracy in demanding cuts to everything, all the time. They wont be happy until the ACT government is run by a builder called Deano, in his spare time, with the budget written on the back of a beer-mat. (With no offence to builders or anyone called Deano, or beer-mats.)

            Commenter
            yumq
            Location
            CBR
            Date and time
            December 31, 2012, 2:09PM
            • @yumq I have no problem with your comments but the facts are that we do not get any of the benifits that you are pointing out. What we currently have is a goverment with ideas that because they are in Canberra that they should waste half their time meddling in Federal politics.

              The other part is why do we need all these portfolios. We are a small city in the grand scheme and much like we dont have our own police force but outsource its supply why dont we stop wasting money replicating these other departments.

              Commenter
              James
              Location
              Canberra
              Date and time
              December 31, 2012, 2:30PM
              • Hear, hear James!

                Commenter
                Outraged of Palmerston
                Date and time
                December 31, 2012, 3:13PM
            Comments are now closed
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