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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 5 Hansard (6 May) . . Page.. 1844..

MR BARR (continuing):

processing of unit title applications. Additionally, this part also specifies limitations for the works assessor when requesting further information.

Madam Deputy Speaker, in closing, this bill is part of the government's ongoing efforts to improve our planning system to meet the needs of the economy, the industry, the environment and most importantly the community. I commend the bill to the Assembly. For the planning nerds, there will be an examination in due course. Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker.

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

Standing and temporary orders

Estimates 2010-2011—Select Committee

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (10.32): I move:

That standing and temporary orders be amended to include a new temporary order 253A in the following terms:

253A.When presenting its report, the Chair of the Select Committee on Estimates will present to the Assembly a schedule listing questions on notice for which answers were not provided during the annual Estimates inquiry. Outstanding questions on notice will be provided to the Clerk within 30 days from the tabling of the estimates report. The Speaker will present to the Assembly the answers received after the report has been tabled and a schedule of questions on notice outstanding after the 30-day period.

Madam Deputy Speaker, as you would know, because you have been party to many of these discussions, the issue of the government's failure to answer questions on notice in the estimates process has been ongoing for probably four or five years in this place, and it has been getting worse over time. This year, in particular, various forums in this Assembly, including the meeting of committee chairs and the administration and procedure committee, have looked at this issue. It has also been, I understand, a live issue for discussion by the estimates committee after it was convened earlier this year.

This proposed motion came as a recommendation to the administration and procedure committee from the estimates committee for this year's budget. We have decided to adopt it and bring it to the Assembly in its present form. This is a two-edged sword, and we realise that. What we are trying to do as an Assembly is keep the government accountable and to ensure that questions taken during estimates are answered. There has been a constant stream of questions unanswered. We get to the end of the process and the government just says: "We don't have to answer that. That process is over, we don't have to answer it."

We want to find a process whereby it does not matter how long the process goes on, those questions will be answered. However, this is a double-edged sword; we recognise this, and it has been discussed in many places. If we provide a mechanism like this, the government may just say, "We've got another 30 days to answer after the estimates committee reports."That is unsatisfactory as well, and that is why this is a temporary order. We will be reviewing this in the administration and procedure committee after the estimates process this year.

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