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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 7 Hansard (3 July) . . Page.. 2672..


DR FOSKEY (continuing):

There are issues, of course, for smaller agencies. We do think, now that we have got a Shared Services Centre, it is an appropriate time for the government to focus on the improvement of financial statements. In fact, our first recommendation is that the ACT government undertake a whole-of-government approach to improve department financial statements, with a particular focus on assisting smaller agencies to meet that standard.

In relation to Treasury, we also questioned the officials and the minister about regulatory impact statements. We were interested in knowing why their responsibility for those was transferred from the Attorney-General to the Treasurer and whether there was any intention for the government to make regulatory impact statements public. We are concerned that frequently they are labelled as cabinet documents, and that of course makes them difficult to release each time. The committee does not see why they need to be cabinet-in-confidence, and we recommended that the government move to a process whereby all regulatory impact statements are publicly released after they have been considered by cabinet.

Mr Speaker, it would not be a surprise to you that I followed up concern that the Greens have had for several years now, before my time, about the implementation of triple-bottom-line reporting. It is a concern for me that, in my term, I have been promised action on this—that is nearly four years now, and I believe that that inaction preceded my time; but I am only able to judge from my time—but something that looked imminent now looks as though it is as far away as ever.

Officials did say that the rules are in place; it is just that we cannot see them; and they are still working on a framework as to how to implement them. So the committee recommended that the framework be submitted to the ACT government and made public before the ACT election and that annual reports include triple-bottom-line reporting.

Similarly with socially responsible investment, we did believe that the Treasurer should report to the Assembly on progress in implementing the recommendations of the review that the government had conducted and that reporting on socially responsible investment also be included in annual reports.

Another issue that concerned the committee was why the ACT Insurance Authority's liabilities outstripped its assets by $22.5 million, which of course does make it technically insolvent. We were told that, because the authority was not a private insurer, it could rely on government solvency rather than its own balance sheet. So there are issues on that, I expect, though being part of a government agency is some protection. But there are concerns that, technically, the Insurance Authority is insolvent.

Finally, the committee did question the Commissioner for Public Administration about employment issues. There were concerns. One was that the commissioner is no longer a stand-alone position but she has to juggle those responsibilities with her other roles in the Chief Minister's Department. But what we did see was that there is a continued turnover in staff and there is an issue about staff recruitment.


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