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Liberals pool staff to oppose better

By Gungahlin Al - 14 September 2009 6

CT is reporting today that the ACT Liberals MLAs are sacrificing about $55,000 p.a. each from their $139,000 electoral staff allowances, with these funds being pooled into additional staff for Opposition leader Zed Seselja’s office. This is on top of the $440,000 allocation that Zed’s office gets already under Assembly rules, as opposition leader.

This leaves each Liberal MLA with just $92,000 – enough for one full-time adviser each to help them with their individual portfolio representation responsibilities.

The reasoning given for this restructuring and resource pooling is that it overcomes the in-fighting and mixed messages of the previous term. Zed’s office is claiming that it has lifted the professionalism, team culture and thereby success of their opposition efforts.

But one can’t help but wonder how the MLAs themselves are coping without adequate staffing? Are they not elected to first and foremost represent their respective electorates, to get out and meet with the constituents and hear their concerns and to follow up issues on their behalf? How do they do this with less staff? Are they in their offices at night typing up corro themselves instead of analysing legislation and policy? Do we elect MLAs to oppose ‘government’ or to be part of it through comprehensive representation? And how can those extra advisers adequately help the respective portfolio holders, when they are not part of their day-to-day interaction with those portfolio issues?

It may be the “Westminster” way for those who came second to be “the Opposition”, but I’m not sure I want my elected reps to be focused on opposing. I want them representing.

What’s Your opinion?


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6 Responses to
Liberals pool staff to oppose better
Anna Key 9:29 pm 14 Sep 09

Eby said :

I met recently with Alistair Coe, for work (I feel the need to emphasize I am not a Liberal voter…) and asked him about this. He said he has one full time advisor, and shares a receptionist/admin officer with Steve Tossp – sorry, Doszpot. Alistair advised that the reason for this was to ensure their party’s messages are centralised and consistent.

/quote]

So does this mean they might update their website to beyond the last election?

Eby 7:48 pm 14 Sep 09

I met recently with Alistair Coe, for work (I feel the need to emphasize I am not a Liberal voter…) and asked him about this. He said he has one full time advisor, and shares a receptionist/admin officer with Steve Tossp – sorry, Doszpot. Alistair advised that the reason for this was to ensure their party’s messages are centralised and consistent.

I also didn’t see any evidence that it was impacting upon his work. Alistair manages his own diary, makes his own appointments and responds to his own emails – it was a refreshing change to meet with an MLA who, to my surprise, knew what he was talking about.

Not that their centralised and consistent messages will convince me to vote Liberal in the future.

NickD 5:32 pm 14 Sep 09

It’s also a good way for Zed to neuter his opponents – if extra staff frees up some of his time at the expense of the other front benchers it strengthens his (probably untenable) position.

muFasa 4:45 pm 14 Sep 09

No matter how many staff MLAs have, I’m sure they would still be useless… Let’s not make any arguments for more money for them!

housebound 3:42 pm 14 Sep 09

The CT article also indicated that the Greens get so much more per MLA than the Libs as part of the Greens agreement to return Stanhope to power. When you put it like that, it almost sounds like a bribe, but I am sure it wasn’t.

bd84 2:28 pm 14 Sep 09

Why make the claim that they do not have adequate staffing when you have nothing to support the claim? You seem to be beating up a story out of nothing. If they desperately needed that extra money for an additional staff member in each office, I’m sure they wouldn’t have done it. The money seems to be going to additional staff in Zed’s office, which increases his number of staff, so overall there won’t be much of a difference? I’m fairly certain that they won’t be run off their feet buried in work.

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