Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 22 November 2007) . . Page.. 3732 ..
the retention of the OHS commissioner after the restructuring of the Office of Regulatory Services. An initiative from the 2006-07 budget was—and I quote from the explanatory statement to the Occupational Health and Safety (Regulatory Services) Legislation Amendment Bill 2007—to consolidate “various ACT regulatory agencies into a single, coordinated ORS agency to achieve economies of scale and to remove unnecessary duplication of regulatory costs across government”.
Minister, why is additional funding needed merely to retain the OHS commissioner? Why was this cost not mentioned in the explanatory statement or in the briefings on the Occupational Health and Safety (Regulatory Services) Legislation Amendment Bill 2007?
MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. This is an issue that actually at one level has bedevilled the management of the commission—the Office of Regulatory Services, as it now is—for some years. I think the genesis of the decision that was taken to incorporate additional funding within the second appropriation was as a result of a decision, I admit, that was taken between the finalisation of last year’s budget and the settlement of the second appropriation. That was a decision that was taken around appropriate levels of funding for the commissioner in relation to those statutory obligations which the commissioner has. They are obligations which I do not think had ever been recognised through discrete funding.
There were a number of issues in relation to the management, the structure and the reporting arrangements and, specifically, issues around an appropriate level of funding for the carrying out of the statutory responsibilities of the commissioner. This additional funding recognises that. You could say this in relation to any second appropriation bill, and the issue was touched on yesterday in a question—“If there are additional priorities that you wish to fund between budgets, use the Treasurer’s advance.” As I explained yesterday, we took the decision in relation to this. There are items in here that could certainly have been funded through a Treasurer’s advance, but to the extent that we had decided to introduce a second appropriation, why would you not include any additional item of intended expenditure in an appropriation bill for the purpose of transparency and accountability and to allow an estimates process to proceed?
Of course, to the extent that question time today is really just a quasi estimates hearing—indeed, I am appearing before the PAC for the purposes of estimates in relation to the second appropriation bill at 9.30 next Monday—
Ms MacDonald: You won’t need to after today.
MR STANHOPE: I presume I can cancel my appearance before the public accounts committee next Monday in which, of course—
Opposition members interjecting—
MR SPEAKER: Order!
MR STANHOPE: It is a fair point. Every one of the questions that was asked today is an estimates committee question on the detail of the second appropriation bill. To