Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (19 June) . . Page.. 2057..
There is a history in this place, I have observed, of members moving various changes in order to improve the information flow, and the information flow to the Assembly itself; but I have to say that four-monthly is going to be next to useless. Quarterly is a lot more useful inasmuch as you will get, some time in late February or mid March, depending on how much time we give the government to do it, a meaningful report on half the year, fully prepared, with the balance day adjustments included. It should be a meaningful set of accounts.
That is at a time when, if we are still doing draft budgets or whatever, it is of some use to people. It is the middle of March at the latest and it gives you some information. If we don't, then we will have two reports. Let me take you back a bit. The end of December. With quarterly reporting we will get meaningful accounts in the middle of February when we are launching into the draft budget at the same time.
Mr Humphries: I surrender.
MR QUINLAN: You surrender on that? Okay. Thank you. Well, we only have to argue about whether we have 30 days or 45 days to prepare. I spoke to officers today and I think I would be prepared to let the 45 days go through rather than the 30, inasmuch as I want the damn things to be right. We get monthly accounts in this place, financial statements that go around, and the information content is zero. The current financial year is an example. The first time we see the projected final year outcome. That is the meaningful column. The update on the final outcome for the year. The first time that changed was about December, and it was only after we had started and prompted that via the select committee on budget parameters.
I do not expect public servants and an administration of our size to be producing complete financial statements once a month. That is just crazy stuff. It is better to have fewer but more useful statements. Quarterly ones will provide meaningful statements through the year. In the middle of February, as I said, you will get a report that gives a clear indication of how we are going for that year, and there will be another one landing between, say, the budget and the appropriation debate. We will be able to get any differences in, if you like, the latest possible projections of the current financial year. So, if you surrender on the quarterly one, I will cop the 45 days.
MS TUCKER (4.17): This bill has two parts. The first part amends the act to allow the territory's audited financial statement for 2000-2001 to be released before the October election. Normally these statements are not available until December. It seems reasonable to have this independently verified information before the election so that the community can judge the soundness of the territory's financial position before they cast their vote.
The second part is quite different and is a permanent change to the reporting requirements in the act. At present the Treasurer is required to table the financial statements each month which describe the changes to the territory's financial position over the month. The government wants to change this to four-monthly reporting and also to allow those reports to be prepared within 45 days of the end of the month rather than the current 30 days. I must admit that receiving these reports every month is a bit overwhelming and that a longer reporting period would allow improved quality of information and more time to scrutinise the material without any significant loss in