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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 4210..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

One of these sound financial principles, making sure that the government takes into account the financial impact on future generations, dovetails with a measure further on in this package to do with intergenerational reporting.

The next measure in the bill is to require the government, at the time of the budget and again when a budget update is published later in the financial year, to publish a financial policy objectives and strategies statement. This document is designed to make transparent the government's short, medium and long-term financial strategies and establish benchmarks for evaluating the conduct of financial policy in the territory.

That strategy statement has to embody certain things. It must:

a) state the government's long-term financial objectives within which financial policy for the financial year and the following 3 financial years will be framed; and

b) explain the broad strategic priorities on which the budget or budget update is based; and

c) state the key financial measures that the government has identified as being important and against which financial policy will be set and assessed; and

d) state, for the following year and the following 3 financial years-

i) the government's short-term financial objectives; and

ii) the targets for each stated key financial measure; and

e) explain how the financial objectives and strategic priorities mentioned in paragraphs (a), (b) and (d) relate to the principles of responsible fiscal management; and

f) state any financial policy actions taken or to be taken that are temporary in nature, the reasons for taking them and indicate the process for their revision; and

identify the reporting basis on which subsequent financial reports will be prepared; and

g) state the reasons for any changes from the previous financial policy objectives and strategies statement.

Some of these occur already. Some of these things do take place and are laid out by government from time to time in a number of documents, be they the budget itself or subsequent statements of its financial position. But it is important to stress that there is no requirement, in any document governing the formation of a budget or similar legislation, that the government indicate its objectives for a range of things or set out much of what is required in this bill.

For example, there is no present requirement anywhere in legislation for government to indicate its objectives for the operating position, the return on superannuation investments, the pattern of capital works expenditure into the future and a whole series of related issues. It is generally the case that those things will be provided, but it is not, as I emphasised, a requirement.

I mentioned that this would be provided at the time of the budget and the time of each budget update. The budget update would be a statement of the budget position on the first sitting day of each calendar year-that is, approximately halfway through the financial year. The update is not the same as quarterly financial reporting showing budget trends. It is not simply producing figures; it is a report against the objectives and the strategies which the government itself lays down in the budget.

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