Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2000 Week 1 Hansard (15 February) . . Page.. 1..
MR SPEAKER (Mr Cornwell) took the chair at 10.30 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.
MR QUINLAN (10.33): Happy New Year to everybody. Mr Speaker, pursuant to order, I present Finance Report No. 4 of the Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration (incorporating the Public Accounts Committee), entitled "Report on Chief Minister's Department Annual and Financial Reports 1998-99 and Legislative Assembly Secretariat Annual and Financial Reports 1998-99", together with extracts of the minutes of proceedings. I move:
That the report be noted.
I guess this is a first. This is the first report by a standing committee on the annual reports of some parts of the administration as compared to the previous Estimates Committee review of the annual reports in total. I believe the system that now prevails is less than adequate and probably not as effective in terms of coordinated analysis of what the administration has done and what the Government has done and a coordinated response and a coordinated overall summary of the Government's performance as against budgets and as against promises and commitments.
It may be a good thing from the Government's perspective to divide annual reports into heaps and spread them amongst the standing committees - a divide and conquer process - but I think it is fairly evident that open government would be better served by having some order to the catalogue of the Government's performance and, I am afraid to say, a catalogue of the Government's cock-ups.
The Finance and Public Administration Committee spent some time attempting to decipher information in annual reports. Quite obviously, the annual report of any corporation is a picture of the work of that body cast in the best light possible within the confines of accounting standards and accounting practice.
In relation to the annual reports that the committee reviewed, I would like to make a few comments. The committee noted that, although the budget process is replete with key result areas that the Government has set itself, even our own Chief Minister conceded that the Government has failed in meeting many of the key result areas that are contained in the budget. That underscores the point that I made earlier that we need some better, coordinated approach to the review of annual reports such as, I suggest to this Assembly,