Interview with Bryan Stait, Parliamentary Library Researcher, Parliament House, Canberra, on Monday 11 September, 1989.
Greg McIntosh recorded this interview with Bryan Stait, Parliamentary Library Researcher, at Parliament House, Canberra, on Monday 11 September, 1989
G McIntosh: Interview with Bryan Stait, Parliamentary Library, Researcher, Parliament House, Canberra, Monday September the 11th, 1989. The first area I’d just like to ask you about is your general view on Parliament Executive relations, which is sort of…
B Stait: I see the Parliamentary Executive relations as being extremely distant. I would — particularly in this building where they have an Executive Wing, I walk around the Executive probably much more than you do even, and I can count that on the finger of one hand the number of times I have seen an non-minister or a shadow minister walking around that building, and normal members of parliament — see it appears to me no just don’t, don’t go in there; I might be wrong but it appears so. And the building’s just so vast and so huge and so unwieldy that — I think the Executive Government works into — the Executive is independent of Parliament, and certainly in the Reps operates independence of Parliament, and only at best tolerates the Senate.
G McIntosh: Is it possible for the parliament, the Reps and the Senate, the various back benchers sat on the Opposition, is it possible for the parliament to adequately keep a check on the Executive like the textbooks say it should?
B Stait: I would say the parliament can’t; I would say that the Corpus can, and does occasionally, because the Labor Party corporate structure does occasionally get the Executive stopped from doing things that the parliamentarians don’t like, but once it reaches the parliament I think they all toe the line like good little party members, both parties.
G McIntosh: So it’s really party government, not parliamentary government; once you win the elections, party — the winner take all?
B Stait: Yes, yeah, I don’t think the Reps committee system in any way aids that, particularly with the ministerial leagues vetted.
G McIntosh: What does that say about the role of the Opposition? I mean is it…?
B Stait: In parliament?
G McIntosh: Yeah.
B Stait: I don’t think it has a great role in the day to day operations of the parliament, I think it’s — a question, a quick look at question time will illustrate where every Dorothy Dix from the government has a ministerial statement and every question from the Opposition is largely ignored, or at best, badly answered. There’s no recourse I mean because it’s — both sides of the party line are just so strong. It’s just rigid, I mean you just don’t get people crossing the floor, it’s incredibly rare, incredibly rare circumstance, and they all know it.
G McIntosh: Well has the parliament got enough resources? I mean if you look at back benchers a lot of the ones I’ve spoken to said, they’ve never read legislation, they just haven’t got time, they don’t read, they not legislators. Have they got enough staff resources back? I mean is there enough back up in the library and the committee systems of both parliamentary chamber departments?
B Stait: No, there isn’t, but my view is if there was it still wouldn’t be used properly. Each member gets three research — or three officers, whatever staff, research staff and stenos and so on, and 90 per cent of the non-Shadow ministers, non-ministers, put all of those people in their electoral offices to shore up their re-election in the electorate. I think, although a number of them may protest that they don’t have time to read legislation, I would think a number of them don’t want to and they…
G McIntosh: Well they’d find it too complex probably.
B Stait: I think they’d find it too complex and B, they know they get into the House they’re going to have to vote as they’re told. What’s the point of forming an opinion on a piece of legislation, particularly if it doesn’t directly affect your electorate or your immediate interests, when you know in the end you’re going to have to say you’re told and to vote the way you’re told?
G McIntosh: Yeah a lot of people, politicians but also writers and so on have talked about, well you’d need — you need party discipline otherwise you’ll end up with a shambles. Just how much discipline is needed to make the place work or is there an alternative view that maybe there should be a bit less discipline which would mean the parliament might be a bit more relevant rather than…?
B Stait: If there was less discipline — I don’t think you could do it with parties. You’d have to have lots of parties to break down party discipline; I don’t think you’d break down party discipline internally, that wouldn’t work to anyone’s benefit. We’ve had lots of different parties, I mean you’ve just got to look at Israel or Italy or places like that to find out the trouble you get into doing that, but it would — but the problem be that you’d never pass the contentious legislation, so you’ve got a — I think you’ve got a catch-22, the system where everyone does as they’re told in effect, and votes, at least after leaving Caucus, votes along the party lines. There is some hope of people tackling issues that are unpopular, but you don’t end up in a situation like you do in the US to a degree, although there is party discipline there of a different sort where every members’ electorate with a military factory cause votes to say that factory in his electorate or every piece of bill is — every bill is virtually watered down to the point where it defends nobody, because they want to get re-elected back in their home state or their home congress, so you get the situation like Reagan coming in when he came in, that we’re going to, ‘Slash taxes, I’m going to slash expenditure.’ He slashed taxes but he couldn’t get the expenditure come through; I’m not sure that he wanted to but — so our way at least you potentially can get contentious legislation through, or legislation that’s unpopular in certain electors, and the advantage of having strict party discipline is the person that goes back to that electorate can then always at least have the pseudo defence of pleading, ‘I had to,’ you know, ‘I’m a member of the Labor Party,’ or, ‘I’m a member of the Liberal Party,’ and the Corpus decide — I spoke incredibly vehemently against it in all the meetings but the majority voted and we are a democracy so I…
G McIntosh: That’s an advantage for the MPs…
B Stait: Yep, the MP.
G McIntosh: Is it an advantage for anyone else?
B Stait: No, but it may be a backhanded advantage in that they can then support things that are — how should we put it? — the national good, but the bad for their electorate, whereas if you had a freer system they’d have to vote against it. That happens in the United States all the time.
G McIntosh: What about the role of the Senate? How important do you see the Senate?
B Stait: Oh yeah, I’m a great believe in abolishing the Senate, like I’m a great believer in abolishing state governments, but it does — I think as long as it’s there it does have a bit of a role in that it slows up some legislation and gives people a chance to think about it a bit.
G McIntosh: Was it really performing the function that, you know, a lot of people out in the electorate assume the parliament is performing? In other words, this sitting down and looking at pieces of legislation, things that we know don’t happen, but a lot of people out in voter land think it’s happening; is that the sort of thing the Senate’s doing, is just not opening the Reps?
B Stait: I don’t think so, and the reason I don’t think is because the Senate spends an enormous amount of time, particularly the Democrats and Independents, playing up to their constituency with frivolous — what I’d call frivolous; they would obviously consider them vitally important, matters of public importance and so on — and putting up pieces of legislation that they know can never get up but they do it so they can talk to it and so on. So an enormous amount of time is spent in the Senate talking about things that aren’t relevant to anybody except the senators and their mendicant officials, which may a perfectly valid role, but what it ends up meaning I think that the legislation doesn’t receive any more careful scrutiny in the Senate, the Reps in fact I suspect in a lot of cases less. Unless…
G McIntosh: Even though it takes a lot longer to get through and they sit longer you don’t think they…?
B Stait: They sit longer but I don’t know how much longer the legislation takes to get through in most cases. A lot of it — I mean, we’re really — the ones that the Opposition vehemently oppose is in the Reps if they can — they may well tie up in the Senate but [INAUDIBLE] toodle through unmolested, and in the end as you know, the Senate ends up sitting til Christmas; everybody sat for six weeks very tired, and the amount of thought and effort that goes into legislation towards obtaining the session is I guess difficult to measure.
G McIntosh: One of the things a lot of people hold up is the Senate committee system. You got a view on how effective that is?
B Stait: I don’t know how — yes, I don’t think it’s very effective at all anymore. I think it might have been; I’m only going on reading Senate reports, I wasn’t here sort of long enough to do anything else. The recent Senate reports I’ve come across — I’ve got one here — the good example, the Kakadu Report. It’s split exactly on party lines, majority of the report says one thing, minority of the report says the other; it’s a party split, and I think that’s becoming more and more common.
G McIntosh: So the old…
B Stait: And I talked to the secretary of that committee because I did a lot of work for them, and from the moment they sat down there was never any — never, ever the slightest chance of anything else being the outcome.
G McIntosh: Well again, one of the — when they talk about the revival of parliament and the committee system in the Senate, one of the things they say, ‘Look, get it out of the chamber, get away from party political stuff.’ You get into the private confines of the committee room or whatever and they sit there and they look at it on the issue rather than party political, what you were saying…
B Stait: They do, they do on non-political issues. As soon as it becomes a political issue they don’t. That’s my view; I may be wrong, I’m not a great observer of the committees, so — I find their reports useful in — because there’s a lot of information comes in as submissions that’s not available from other sources, so as a source of information they’re very useful. I’m not so convinced they’re non-party political and they’re looked over on their issues.
G McIntosh: Well if we go onto the second area, you just mentioned the new Parliament House before, have you got any other views on the new Parliament House and how it might affect Parliament Executive relations? You said that you suspect there’s less members flowing around the Executive Wing; what about the building overall? Do you think it’s designed to be a proper functioning parliament or…?
B Stait: No, it’s a monument, and it’s a monument of grandiose ideas and a very pretty building and very aesthetic and very nice, but it’s not a functioning building; it never will be.
[PHONE RINGS 10:44]
G McIntosh: Pause? You were just talking about the new building.
B Stait: Yep. As I say I think it’s a lovely monument to the parliament and to Australia and all sorts of other things, but it’s full of all sorts of little things that are done for the look and not…
G McIntosh: Not to make it parliament?
B Stait: Not to make a parliament out of it, not to make it practical. Simple things like — I’m not sure how to say — I mean you’ve got the Members’ Hall there between the two chambers. Now their original explanation to me why that was there was so that the members and senators would come out and they would mingle and they would talk and so on; I have yet to see anybody but a minister come out that way; they all go out the back doors, because that’s where their offices are. So again, I think there’s a large amount of philosophy and idealism in the design of the building which isn’t practical and that was — I think that’s a good example of the fact that none of this mingling in front of the public goes — have you ever seen anybody in there? [laughs]
G McIntosh: Only when they have a reception or something in there, that’s the only time that — I’ve seen a couple of MPs chatting amongst themselves but by hell it’s rare, very rare.
B Stait: It’s not being used in the way that the architect — I gather…
G McIntosh: A lot of people have mentioned that, I mean it’s just, it’s too big and it’s too far away.
B Stait: And the doors out to their offices are out the back, hence the problem with our ground floor library; we’ve had to go to putting nothing but fiction and popular stuff in there in an attempt to drag in the masses. And this is another thing, that sort of thing, bars across the window with eye level in all the offices so you can’t see out of them looking out the window.
G McIntosh: Well you’re not supposed to be, you’re supposed to be working.
B Stait: Where’d they get that idea from? All you get’s a pain in the neck trying to look over it. Anyway, no but I think — and I can rattle off hundreds of examples in this building where there’s been no thought; the red gravel in front of the marble floor, the parquet flooring and all the high traffic areas that have been completely torn to pieces. I mean they look nice but they’re not practical, although I don’t think that affects parliament, the operations of parliament per se, but I think it’s an illustration of how the building is a look, is an aesthetic rather than a functioning building.
G McIntosh: Well presumably that committee that oversaw the whole process and the architects and so on, presumably in their brief it was to have a building that was designed to meet the needs of parliament; you’re saying that they didn’t do that properly?
B Stait: I would assume their brief included a large number of things including that, and I suspect one of the major things on the top of their brief was a building that would represent the high ideals of Australia and be something we could be proud of as a building, hence you wouldn’t have a design competition otherwise and…
G McIntosh: Well how big a disadvantage is it? If we’re looking at the Executive Parliament then more specifically, how do you think the building might affect that?
B Stait: The design of the building I think has to affect it because of the isolation of the Executive Wing. They never did win that idea of actually sealing the Executive Wing off did they, with the attendants at the doors and not being allowed through unless you were — that would have been an absolute disaster; that would have been the end. But still I think there’s an incredible amount of isolation. The building’s just so big, so immensely large.
G McIntosh: Some people said they should have built it up rather than out.
B Stait: Yeah, I think so too. That would’ve helped slightly, but having said that I think if the number of parliamentarians goes up as it will, that could become less and less of a problem. If it gets crowded again I think some of this feeling of size and emptiness will go.
G McIntosh: Do you think the building, because it is so big, does that mean more power to the Executive?
B Stait: No.
G McIntosh: Vis-a-vis the parliament?
B Stait: No I don’t know that there’s actually more power in the final analysis; I think there’s more isolation of the Executive, but I’m not convinced about whether I’d say power because the Executive still have to go before the Corpus and still have to go before the party and various other things. And in the end I think they’re monitored at least well enough at that level, but they’re much more isolated and I think they can run off on their own tangents much more readily; they’re not sort of standing in the next cubicle in the toilet every day with a member of parliament talking about what worries them, so I think what you have is your Executive operating in more isolation. A lot of ideas going before Corpus which then cause trouble; they have to come back to be modified, so I think it’s far more inefficient but I don’t think there’s necessarily any more power.
G McIntosh: Well one thing I should ask people in the library particularly is, how do you think it’s affected the use of MPs’ and senators’ use of the research service or other facilities in the library?
B Stait: In my — I can only talk for myself — there’s my workload and jobs from members since I’ve come up here has dramatically increased. I know the LRS in general has at least held its own or increased so — and I get more members of parliament and staffers to see me now than I did in the old House, but I should preface that by the fact I was sitting out in the open in a cubby house in the old House, which wasn’t very conducive to any sort of private conversation.
G McIntosh: Because I would have thought, just from what I’ve seen, that the US members come up here in person now.
B Stait: I think — I think over in the library proper that’s true, because in the — there’s immediately the King’s Halls immediately outside in the other old — in the old parliament, so there was a lot of members just casually strolled in in a matter of a few minutes; you don’t do that anymore. If you come to the library you want to come to the library. I never had very many members come and see me personally; I still don’t. I have a few ring but it’s mostly staff, but it hasn’t changed.
G McIntosh: What about — would you have any view overall? I mean, talking to other people do you think the contact from members and senators — personal contact — has dropped off?
B Stait: Yes, from talking to other people, I think the phone contact’s gone up and personal contact’s dropped down. That’s the impression people get — I get talking to people. As I say, it probably varies depending on the individual and depending on their circumstances in the old House. Probably if you were stuck in the Kurrajong your personal approach has gone up, so I don’t know.
G McIntosh: All right, well the last area is probably the biggest area; what sort of reforms or changes do you think, you know, are needed to make the place work better? I think particularly the Parliament Executive again and…
B Stait: Yeah, I wish I knew. I honestly don’t know how, given the constraints of this building you can change it. Unless you got rid of the Executive Wing and moved the ministers into offices out amongst the members, which would probably help a lot with the operation of the members versus the Executive conversations and so on, would probably greatly hamper the operations of the Executive, and there is — I mean, look when it comes down to it the day to day operations of government are the Executive. You can’t take every decision to parliament, and every bunch of sheep that are rejected from Saudi Arabia’s got to be dealt with by the Executive on the day, and there’s obviously got to be some advantages of them all being together.
G McIntosh: Just some of the examples that have cropped are things like, Tickner and the Public Accounts Committee and so on are trying to get departments to hand in annual reports and so on, which to me on the surface appear like a fairly normal requirement to a fairly well known committee, but two thirds of the parliamentary departments in 1989 still have trouble getting them in. Does that indicate an attitude of arrogance almost by the Public Service Department?
B Stait: Yes, I don’t know, I…
G McIntosh: Surely there must be things that can be done then, I mean that’s outside party discipline and whatever.
B Stait: Oh yeah, that’s just — I don’t know…
G McIntosh: An oversight in the Executive and so on. The Public Service there must be…
B Stait: I know the public servants I’ve spoken to all hate annual reports with a passion, so there’s not a lot of incentive out there, but when you’ve got the government issuing things like that they can’t really expect much from the public service, you know, budget papers. That is just crap, it’s unusable garbage.
G McIntosh: And it’s deliberately done so…
B Stait: It’s deliberately done.
G McIntosh: … They cannot be scrutinised.
B Stait: It was deliberately done. I’ve spoken to people in Finance and they constructed a program budget the same as they have in previous years and it was removed higher up, probably higher up Finance.
G McIntosh: And this was right across all portfolios?
B Stait: Yep.
G McIntosh: Deliberately done to…?
B Stait: Deliberately done to make it almost impossible to track down spending.
G McIntosh: As I said to you the other day on that, I find that amazing that the Opposition haven’t kicked up a stink about it.
B Stait: I don’t know why they haven’t either; I would’ve.
G McIntosh: I mean that would be a fairly significant issue I would have thought.
B Stait: So? I don’t think — well 90 per cent of them won’t even have opened the budget papers of course, but you would have thought the Shadow Ministers would have, and I know they’ve had trouble but they’ve not got anywhere with it. I don’t know whether they haven’t been able to get it up in the Party Room to bring it up as an issue, I don’t know. But that — that does not set a good example and when you get people saying how good the [INAUDIBLE] in your reports are and so on which are just hopelessly bad, there’s not a useful piece of information in the whole document, it’s just a propaganda, a glossy sheet to sell…
G McIntosh: But you’d think at least an annual report with certain things that have to be in it would be the bottom line, almost the first thing in all parliamentary — all public — all Commonwealth departments should give to the parliament.
B Stait: But as you’d be aware, even the department administering the conditions of the annual reports part of the Prime Minister and Cabinet didn’t meet the requirements. So clearly — I assume it’s coming from the ministers who consider the annual reports to be an unnecessary nuisance; the same sort of people who consider information being made public in the budgets to be unnecessary and troublesome and — I’m assuming that, I mean I may be having a wonderful time with conspiracy theories but there seems — since I’ve been — and it’s only two and a half years now, three years — information from government departments is getting harder and harder and harder to get. The annual reports have got less in them, the budget papers are now almost, almost completely useless. When I first arrived the 1986-87 budget papers had a whole appendices on the petroleum excise. Fabulous year, it was my main source for the entire year when people wanted to know about petroleum excise. The next year I had a page on it. This year, nothing, nothing, not a word in there on it. That’s…
G McIntosh: Is it available anywhere else?
B Stait: Oh you can get it from the department with trouble, but you’ve got to piece it together. It’s four billion dollars’ worth of the government’s revenue.
G McIntosh: So what you’re saying, over the time you’ve been here the whole information that governments should provide to parliament and so on is…
B Stait: Being whittled away.
G McIntosh: Whittled away.
B Stait: And I think it’s in part due to the fact that the public service departments have the sorts of levels of the old — what are they now? — the seven eight and lower SES have had a real hammering over the last three or four years on staffing levels with these retirement schemes, you know? To get from six and sevens and eights or there, whatever they were, the old groups could retire and the SES — carving down the number of SES 1s and SES 2 officers as they did a year or so ago, the sort of people who had the experience and knew how the departments worked and the sort of people that had a grasp on the day to day operations of the departments have left, and they haven’t been replaced because there have been actual staff reduction exercises. So I think the level of — this middle level of the public service that did these sorts of things has gone. A good example of this is the government didn’t put out a science and technology statement this year, sort of stopped. They just put out a science budget instead which is useless; again, no numbers in it, it’s all waffle. I heard — we’ve heard through the grapevine — that the person who’s done this for many years has retired and there’s no one in the department that can do it anymore.
G McIntosh: Sounds like a fairly good plan in the department doesn’t it?
B Stait: He had all his numbers and all these national — yeah this was the thing that did the international comparison with R&D spending between all the [INAUDIBLE] and stuff, compiled all that. So I think in part it’s the cutting of the public service at these levels has meant that this information — this information as I suspect always been a relatively low priority within the department because they’ve got other things to do like trying to run the portfolio, and when staff cuts start to hit your low priority items get really shuffled down the track.
G McIntosh: Yeah, which again though seems to — if reporting to parliament or accountability to parliament is a low priority it says a fair bit about the state of the attitude or the ethos of the public service to their masters if you like.
B Stait: I think — I think the public service is a totally — personal opinion, I can’t back it up with anything — my view would be that the public service considers its masters to be the Minister of Parliament. I don’t think there’d be a single member in the SES…
G McIntosh: And I suppose they are, their minister is answerable to the party.
B Stait: Yeah, I would think that’d be their argument; I’m not sure I necessarily agree with it. When you talk to a few of the — as I have — a few parliamentary people, quite high advisors — they don’t know who the Shadow Minister is often. And don’t care.
G McIntosh: That’s right, probably don’t want to know.
B Stait: No, well that could well be true too. But that — that I think illustrates the general view to parliament, but I mean that’s got nothing to do with the building or anything, that’s…
G McIntosh: Well have you got any suggestions around changes that would achievable that — I mean things I’ll put in the survey, things like should it sit longer? Should parliament sit longer?
B Stait: I would change the sitting — oh, well you mean things like that? The first thing I would do is change the sitting pattern. I’d sit more days and not sit at night for starters; I think legislation by exhaustion like we do in Australia is an insanity. It also doesn’t give people a chance to consider legislation. If you had an evening, you had from six o’clock on to discuss things with your other fellow colleagues and with the Opposition and with — and read through legislation for the next morning I think you’d get a much better operation than you do now where they come in at ten and go through til twelve at night and then come in at ten again, I mean it’s just insane. It’s bad enough the politicians do it by choice; it’s actually murder for the staff who have to do it and don’t get paid for it.
G McIntosh: What about the committee system? Should it be expanded or whittled away or…?
B Stait: The Senate committee system I think would probably survive as is. I would — the first thing I would do is I would remove the Tweedle Dum/Tweedle Dee between the Senate and the Reps. Having a Reps Committee for Science, Technology and Industry and a Senate Committee for Science, Technology and Industry and then so on, they’re all just mirror images of each other; it’s pure insanity.
G McIntosh: They do tell me that they do consult and they don’t overlap too much.
B Stait: They don’t overlap too much no, but I wouldn’t just call them the same thing, I’d just — for example, there’s not a Senate or a Reps committee for resources, not one. There used to be a Senate committee for national resources but they got rid of it and turned into the Arts, Environments and something else.
G McIntosh: Well there’s not one that covers the budget either.
B Stait: No. But a simple thing like that you could set up a resources committee — what is it? — 65 per cent of Australia’s income is either primary products or mining resources. We don’t have a Senate committee look into the issues — a few of them do it as a peripheral, but none of them do it — none of them — there isn’t a committee to look at that as a full time basis. And you could do it more efficiently I think if you literally — I know, as you say, they consult to make sure they don’t do the same things, but they are doing the same things. I mean there’s committees looking at similar things in both, you know, slightly different aspects but similar things in both. If you actually gave them a different name and technically gave them a different area I think it would help. It might only help with the perception but it would help, whereas the Tweedle Dum/Tweedle Dee look — I’d of course get — the obvious one that would never be allowed is remove the right of veto of enquiries from the Reps committees from the minister.
G McIntosh: Most people would see that, that they’d like to see that happen.
B Stait: Yeah but we know that won’t.
G McIntosh: Well Langmore and those said that — Griffith and them said that they allowed that because they just wanted to get them set up; if they had have insisted on that they wouldn’t have gotten it all and they opened it at the time they’ll get that in but they may end up becoming ministers, I’m pretty sure that I’ve challenged their view on that.
B Stait: I’m sure about it. The last thing you want is extra people looking — making more work for you and so on. The submissions to most of these Reps committees that I’ve seen from the departments are at best appalling and often worse than appalling. A recent one I saw to the Science, Reps, Science, Technology and Industry from Dovey[?] on North West Shelf Gas; it was just absolutely hopeless. Didn’t answer any of the questions, just appallingly bad. That’s because, again, well they’re hopelessly understaffed, I happen to know that, they have about eight, nine vacancies there. They haven’t got the time to do these sort of things, which is another issue. Of course the other thing — by my personal — I would like to see the committee system completely changed; I would like to see the committee system in parliament here change to the Canadian Parliament system which is no research staff on the committees, just a secretary and the members and the library, the research service to provide research staff on secondment plus the committee’s able to bring in people from outside for particular enquiries. That way you have — well in Canada what happens is that people go off for three or four months and they’re actually seconded, they don’t in addition to their research work, they have a research service of about 80 people, about 30 of which at any time is about the size of us are doing members’ requests, the rest are on committee.
The big advantage of this is that the committees get experts on the committees who can read the submissions and make some sense of them and translate them. The deal we have at the moment is where — and in fact I think it’s an — I’ve been told it’s an active policy — is to try and make sure that the research staff don’t know anything about the subject.
G McIntosh: Move them around.
BS: Yeah, yeah, and the idea of this reputedly is that the members and senators should make up their own minds on the submissions without being influenced by their research staff, but the net result of that is that the members and senators end up believing the submission they want to believe, good or bad or rubbish, I mean they’re all preconceived — all — no, that’s a generalisation — there’s obviously going to be some that don’t, but I think in general it’s going to happen. The lobby group they believe in they’ll believe their — in other words when [INAUDIBLE] puts in a submission Senator Crichton-Browne will think it’s wonderful. If ASCF put one in I’m sure Norm Sanders will think it’s terrific; they won’t scrutinise it, and I think translation of scrutiny by experts –or at least pseudo experts, as close as you can get to experts around here.
G McIntosh: Well they do tell me in the committee system [INAUDIBLE] they are relying more on outside consultants and that coming in now.
BS: They are…
G McIntosh: They do acknowledge that problem but I’m not sure to what extent they’ve…
BS: Yeah, but I think they could — they could help with a lot, and help the library’s operations a lot, because one of the frustrations here for me and I think for a number of the other research staff when they sit and think about it is, you never get a chance to do any research, to — I do two jobs a day on average, often four or five a day. You don’t turn out anything with any research in it, you’re just holding your own and you’re swimming with your nose just above water, permanently.
G McIntosh: Well you’re just servicing the MPs aren’t you basically?
BS: Yep, that’s it, and only barely, whereas if you get a chance to do a long job and it was a few months looking at a submission and reading all the submissions, you’d get a chance to learn something and to do something and actually see it come to fruition.
G McIntosh: Well perhaps one way that would happen would be if amalgamation of the parliamentary parties. Give far more flexibility available between the committee systems.
BS: If all five parliamentary departments were amalgamated I would support that wholeheartedly; I think it’s the best — it really should happen. Nothing — the only thing left in the Reps and the Senate chamber departments would be just the class. Everything else…
G McIntosh: That would enable say for instance, the library researchers and the committee people that move…
BS: Yeah, they’d just be all one.
G McIntosh: Yeah.
BS: No I think that’s terrific. This idea of amalgamating just the three non-chamber departments is just a waste of everybody’s time and money.