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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 11 Hansard (21 October) . . Page.. 3818..


Financial Management Amendment Bill 2003 (No 2)

Debate resumed from 21 August 2003, on motion by Mr Quinlan:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR STEFANIAK (10.39): I resume debate on this bill on behalf of my colleague Mr Smyth. The Liberal Party supports the government's proposed amendments to the Financial Management Act. There is no question that the ACT, along with all other jurisdictions in Australia, must have the strongest possible framework of governance of its financial and associated activities. These matters are becoming more and more critical in both the public and the private sectors. Appropriate responses are required from governments and corporations and from non-government organisations.

The organisations that operate in our society include church organisations and clubs such as tennis clubs. That list could be extended. This important bill will take the ACT a number of steps down the path towards a better government structure-a path down which members of the Liberal Party have already been. In December 2002 our then leader Gary Humphries introduced the Financial Legislation (Integrity and Responsibility) Amendment Bill, which dealt with many of the issues that are now set out in the government's bill. I thank the Treasurer for acknowledging that legacy when he introduced the bill.

The government drew on Mr Humphries' bill when preparing this amending legislation. As the Treasurer noted in his second reading speech, one important aspect involved in the preparation of this bill was the need to ensure it was appropriate to the circumstances and to the needs of the territory, which is a small jurisdiction. The opposition has no difficulty with that approach. If, through this approach, we incorporate new provisions in an existing act rather than create a new act, that would be a good outcome providing, of course, the resulting act does not become too complex and unwieldy.

The Treasurer noted in his presentation speech that when the government's proposed amendments were incorporated into the Financial Management Act the territory would have "a single cohesive financial framework". That is a big call, especially when we take into account the comments that were made by the Auditor-General about the need for a fundamental review of that act. There was much strength in what the Treasurer said about the financial framework within which the ACT would operate following the passage of this bill. Members might be aware that in 2000 the Victorian Treasurer introduced a number of amendments to the budgetary and financial management framework in Victoria. Victoria was the first jurisdiction to take this important step. It is apparent that much of what is contained in this bill can be seen in the provisions that were implemented in Victoria.

I note that Mr Humphries' bill also drew heavily on the innovative approach adopted by Victoria in 2000. In 2002 Victoria put in place a framework that essentially comprised six components. Briefly, those components were: sound financial management principles; regular statements of financial policy objectives and strategies; identifying economic and other assumptions and risk assessments implicit in the budget; implementing a consistent reporting regime; the publication of pre-election budget


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