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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 7 Hansard (29 June) . . Page.. 2683..

MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

I present the government's response to the report of the Select Committee on Estimates 2010-2011. I thank the committee and its support staff for its report on the Appropriation Bill 2010-2011. The committee's main report has been prepared within a short time frame and the government appreciates the effort that has been made by the committee and its secretariat.

Further, the government would like to extend a note of appreciation to the chair whose professional leadership saw a genuine improvement, I believe, in the efficiency and effectiveness of the estimates committee process. Unlike my predecessor, Mr Ted Quinlan, I will not be able to stand up this year and say that it was the worst Select Committee on Estimates report ever tabled in this place.

The government respects and values the crucial role played by the Select Committee on Estimates in scrutinising its proposed expenditure. I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank ACIL Tasman for their efforts, time and work put into providing the independent analysis of the 2010-11 ACT budget on behalf of the committee.

The estimates report is more focused this year. It presents 47 recommendations. In conjunction with the independent adviser's report, it effectively canvasses the broad spectrum of issues in the budget. I will not take the Assembly's time now by working through each of the select committee's recommendations. These are separately discussed in the response document, which I table here today.

The committee has provided a report with 47 recommendations on a wide range of issues. The government has accepted or noted the majority of these recommendations. In our response, we have agreed to 19 recommendations; agreed in principle to four; agreed in part to one recommendation; noted 17 recommendations; and not agreed to six recommendations.

However, in some instances where recommendations were not agreed, the government has assessed the objectives, intent and information currently provided in the budget papers and considers the outcome of these recommendations as not being practices for inclusion in the budget paper or counter to current practice. We welcome the efforts of the select committee to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the process which has led to a more focused report in comparison to previous years.

Before I make a comment on the dissenting report, I would like to comment on the questioning process this year. Despite the valued efforts of the chair to streamline and improve the questions on notice process, we did have to manage 813 questions on notice, which was an increase of 33 per cent on the previous year. The government, conscious of its responsibility, endeavours to respond fully to the questions asked of it during the estimates process. However, the volume and scope of the questions this year, which in some cases saw levels of detail which are not routinely collected by government, has unfortunately led to the situation where it was unable to answer some of the questions within the mandated five-day period.

At times, the level of detail required through these questions imposed an extreme workload on many staff, resulting in resources being diverted from core services. I

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