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Tuesday, 23 May 1989
Page: 2431

Senator DEVLIN —Can the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services inform the Senate of the administrative arrangements required by the expansion of the shadow Ministry to a number greater than the current Labor Ministry? What additional entitlements accrue to the Opposition by its decision to have 31 shadow Ministers? What entitlements would flow from a further increase should the former Leader of the Opposition be accommodated in the future?

Senator ROBERT RAY —I think history has passed this question by, so I will be very brief. The situation in terms of travel entitlements is that the shadow ministry is entitled to as much travel allowance per person as the Ministry; that is, if there are 30 Ministers, then 30 shadow Ministers may apply for travel allowance. The difficulty is that we have 31, so someone is going to miss out. It is always possible, of course, that if the former Leader of the Opposition returns we will have two extra positions for which travel allowance will not be made available. Then again, if the three plotters are sacked, there will be one spot over. We on the Government side will not be choosing the shadow Minister who is to miss out. That will be Mr Peacock's task, and the way in which he decides which shadow Minister is not to get the travel allowance will depend on a lot of other factors, which I would love to go into but will not.

On the question of the use of a Commonwealth car in a shadow Minister's home city, there is no limitation by the Remuneration Tribunal or by Government policy. Now that we have 31 shadow Ministers, they will all be entitled to that privilege. The estimated cost of additional revenue is $5,000 to $8,000-pretty cheap when we think about it, as $5,000 to $8,000 for an extra vote in the leadership ballot is nothing. The allocation of staff is done on a block basis. The staff will just have to be carved up amongst 31 instead of 30, as has been done in the past. So there is very little additional cost in a direct sense-$5,000 to $8,000. I guess we will find out who the least preferred shadow Minister is, or who will miss out, by the announcement. As I look at the front bench, no one here seems worried. It will probably be a House of Representatives member.