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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 3 Hansard (8 March) . . Page.. 830..


MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

This bill covers a wide range of matters. We are seeking the support of the Assembly to pass the bill at the next sitting of the Assembly in late March. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Quinlan ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Finance and Public Administration-Standing Committee

Reference to committee

MR QUINLAN (10.50): I ask for leave to move a motion to refer Appropriation Bill 2000-2001 (No 2) to the Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration.

Leave granted.

MR QUINLAN: I move:

That the Appropriation Bill 2000-2001 (No 2) be referred to the Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration (incorporating the Public Accounts Committee) for inquiry and report by 1 May 2001.

We have before us a supplementary budget of in excess of $43 million. A secondary budget of this magnitude would beg to be brought before an estimates process. Quite obviously, this late in the financial year, that is going to be a cumbersome process. I propose that the supplementary budget be referred to the Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration in order that that committee-with, I would expect, other members of the Assembly joining it, depending on the particular portfolio area being examined at the time-may tease out what this process is.

In recent times we have seen a clear desire by the government virtually to spend every spare cent that is available in an election year. This is going to the extreme when we are embodying that process into the budget for the last quarter of this financial year. This supplementary budget should bear probably as thorough an examination as any appropriation bill that has been brought before this house. I expect to have some quite interesting hearings.

I commend my motion to the house.

MR HUMPHRIES (Chief Minister, Minister for Community Affairs and Treasurer) (10.52): Mr Speaker, the government supports this reference to the Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration, largely because the experience with last year's second appropriation bill was a most unsatisfactory one. Members will recall that the matter was referred to the select committee looking at the estimates for the present financial year. We had the very unedifying spectacle of the committee forgetting to consider that matter as it considered the other matters on its plate. We had a one-page report-in fact, a four-paragraph report-brought down. The record will show that a very considerable appropriation, I think two items in the budget, attracted no public inquiry at all. There was no work on the part of the committee on that matter other than to put together a four-paragraph response.


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