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Monday, 27 February 2012
Page: 872


Senator XENOPHON (South Australia) (20:08): I thank Senator Ryan for outlining the opposition's position. It seems that there is no real dispute that the more transparent and robust the process, the greater the degree of public confidence. But you do not want to mandate that, notwithstanding that the tribunal is still free to decide whatever it wants to decide in terms of politicians' pay and entitlements.

I have a budgetary question. It goes to the ability of the tribunal to have a public process. In other words, if it wanted to advertise and hold a public hearing for a day, two days or more, is there any provision in the current budget of the tribunal for that to take place? If there is not, would the government be in a position to say, here and now, that if the tribunal made a request, 'We want to hold public hearings; we want to hear the submissions'—because it has been flooded with submissions and they have to be duly considered—the government would provide the necessary resources for the tribunal to carry out its work? If it does not have adequate resources then that raises issues of its ability to carry out its functions appropriately and independently.