Page 1692 - Week 06 - Thursday, 3 June 2021

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The reason that I moved to adjourn the matter earlier was that we need more time. It is essential that we get the budget process right, to ensure that we have efficient, effective and high-quality scrutiny of the spending of public money in this place. I can see the strengths and weaknesses of both approaches, and I can see why we must take the time to deliberate on the best way to move forward.

I note that the previous Assembly and the previous Administration and Procedure Committee developed, after lengthy debate, the approach that we have just walked through. This approach had tripartisan agreement, and it is important that we follow that through.

I see the benefit of having standing committees scrutinise the budget as issue experts within their committee process. However, the process can be administratively challenging, and we need to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. Likewise, I see the benefit of a single committee having oversight of the budget in its entirety, and being able to weigh the different budget priorities against each other without being constrained to one lane.

I note, as Ms Orr mentioned, that the administration and procedure committee has already committed to a review of the use of standing committees for estimates processes following the 2020-21 budget process. Should that committee have moved earlier to commence that review? As a member of that committee, I am prepared to accept my share of the responsibility for that, as should all of the other committee members here today, including Mr Hanson.

Ms Orr is seeking to refer this matter to the admin and procedure committee and for this already agreed review to take place in a timely manner. I appreciate that, with this referral and review, it is practically impossible to set up the select committee in time for the 2021-22 budget. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Due to the pandemic, we have not seen a normal budget process take place while we are trialling the use of standing committees for this process. Therefore it makes sense to give it a fair go during a normal process so that we can properly test its robustness, allowing the Assembly to make an informed decision on the best way to move forward following the review.

This review will need to be completed in a timely manner so that the question does not impact on the 2022-23 budget process. It is therefore the Greens’ expectation that the review shall be completed by the end of 2021. I, as a member of that committee, will endeavour to see that that target is achieved.

I wish to flag to this Assembly one issue that I will also be working on. During the 2020-21 budget process the Greens received feedback from multiple community groups lamenting the lack of a day when they are able to present their views to the Assembly, providing the Assembly with the opportunity to garner and test a diversity of viewpoints surrounding the budget. Therefore the Greens will be calling for these days for community groups to return. I will be advocating for these as part of the admin and procedure review. I will also be examining means of enabling the 2021-22 budget process to include community hearings. I look forward to working with all parties in this place to determine how this can be done.

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