Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 4 March 2004) . . Page.. 724 ..
Debate (on motion by Mrs Dunne) adjourned to the next sitting.
Planning and Environment—Standing Committee
MRS DUNNE (11.33): I present the following report:
Planning and Environment—Standing Committee—Report 26—Inquiry into Annual and Financial Reports 2002-2003 for the Department of Urban Services and the Related Agencies, dated 19 February 2004, together with a copy of the extracts of the relevant minutes of proceedings.
That the report be noted.
Mr Speaker, in the Standing Committee on Planning and Environment report into the annual reports of the Department of Urban Services and related agencies we looked at the financial reports for 2002-2003 of the following departments and agencies: the Department of Urban Services; the ACTION Authority; the Kingston Foreshore Development Authority and the Gungahlin Development Authority, both of which were presenting their final annual reports; the Commissioner for the Environment; the Cultural Facilities Corporation and the Trustee of the Canberra Public Cemeteries.
The committee found that the annual reports were of a very disappointing quality and that they were not documents of accountability. Almost none of the improvements suggested by the committee in its report on the 2001-2002 annual reports were taken up. In fact, they were substantially ignored, which is why the first recommendation of this report is that the recommendations of the previous report be implemented. We have reached a sorry state when all that was said in a previous year was substantially ignored.
There is extensive information in these reports about things that have been done; this is what dominates the report. Very close and detailed examination is needed to reveal the real performance of agencies, or how they face challenges during the year and how these were handled within strategic and operational plans, and allocated budgets. It is very hard, for instance, to find out how they really did cope with the natural disasters, changes in administrative arrangements, failures or overspends on projects. The Department of Urban Services seems to have adopted the somewhat arrogant and complacent attitude that, just because it has received the annual reports award from the Institute of Public Administration, its report is perfect.
The content of the report varies little from the 2001-2002 annual report and is largely a cut-and-paste exercise with material from that report. I might add that, from time to time, it was very obvious that it was a cut and paste exercise: the publishers failed—I should not blame the publishers—in preparation for publication they failed to change the heading so that it still referred to 2001-2002. In some areas of the report it is difficult to know how accurate the information is, especially when you are reading tables that tell you the data relate to another financial year.