Independent MP Zali Steggall has attacked a government decision that would cut cross-bencher staff in the new parliament†
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has decided to reduce the number of staff members per MP or senator from four to one, in what critics have called an attack on democracy.
Steggall, who retained Warringah’s seat in northern Sydney in the recent federal election, said the impact would be “huge”.
“We consider every piece of legislation, we consult with stakeholders, we listen to the communities,” she said.
“We are proposing amendments, all from the advantage that we have advisors to do that research.
“So essentially it won’t be possible to consider every piece of legislation.”
Albanian suggested that crossbench MPs instead use the central bank of staff members in the parliamentary library for research purposes.
However, Steggall said the role they could play was limited because they could not “advise” MPs or senators.
“Basically, the Prime Minister is suggesting that we are unable to propose alternative policies or legislation,” she said.
Steggall said the cross-benchers in the House of Representatives would meet next week in Canberra, where the issue was likely to be discussed.
“It’s incredibly short-sighted of the Prime Minister. I think it really doesn’t bode well,” she said.
“I would like to remind the Prime Minister that most of the policy work, when it comes to anti-corruption and integrity, and holding the government accountable and moving the government on climate change and net-zero liabilities, has come from the bench. work would not have been possible without consultants.”
Treasury Secretary Katy Gallagher said the decision was motivated by budgetary concerns.
“We’ll look at increasing the parliamentary library to help with issues around parliament, legislation, research, all those things,” she said.
“But you know, we’re all cutting back and saving.”
She said it was the Prime Minister’s prerogative to allocate staff.