Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 12 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 3640..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
that if I trawled through I could construct a case or that Treasury may have, but that is not an exercise that I have gone through. It is not one that I see as particularly profitable.
I think that proceeding with these additional expenditures or appropriations through a second appropriation bill ensures transparency and the potential for scrutiny. We moved immediately to establish an estimates-type process through the public accounts committee to ensure that there was an opportunity for appropriate scrutiny. It was important that, in relation to the use of public funds, there be accountability and transparency and that the government be held accountable for expenditure of public funds. The Treasurer's advance at one level is an exception to that, except, of course, that any Treasurer's advance is notified as soon as possible within the Assembly and that the necessary instruments are tabled. But a second appropriation is appropriate when a government deems it desirable to seek to address priorities.
Our financial position is strong. Even on the day of delivery of the last budget we were advised of a $13 million increase that had not been factored into the budget as a result of population estimates released that day by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the relevance of an upgrading of our population to enhance GST payments. Our budget position improved by $13 million on the day that the budget was tabled, which gave us a degree of latitude in relation to expenditure. It was a $13 million boost to the bottom line that we had not anticipated, that we were not expecting and that we had not factored into the budget. We had that latitude and we have taken it.
I believe that the most appropriate open, transparent and accountable way for a government to seek to expend public moneys is through a bill in the parliament. The public accounts committee will now conduct hearings in relation to each of those expenditures. I feel very comfortable with this approach. I believe it to be the preferred approach, far and above the use of Treasurer's advances.
MR SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mrs Burke?
MRS BURKE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, since receiving the consolidated financial report for the September quarter and any subsequent information about progress during the current quarter, have you instructed any ACT government departments to develop proposals for further, so far unbudgeted expenditure in 2007-08?
MR STANHOPE: Not for 2007-08, not that I can recall. I have asked all agencies to begin—in fact, we are well advanced—processes for next year's budget. Indeed, most agencies have concluded their initial consideration of individual cases across their agencies for proposals for next year's budget. Enormous work has been undertaken across the entirety of the ACT government in relation to next year's budget. There have been no suggestions that there will be another appropriation in this financial year. But work is well advanced on next year's budget.
MS MacDONALD: My question is to the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Gallagher, in her capacity as Minister for Health. Minister, in light of a story in Monday's