Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 4 March 2008) . . Page.. 367 ..
yearly basis. The Clerk has brought to my attention that House of Representatives Practice says:
In addition, annual reports of government departments and authorities and reports of the Auditor-General presented to the House are automatically referred to the committees for any inquiry they may wish to make.
It is certainly the case that there is nothing to stop the House of Representatives from making those inquiries. However, it is my understanding that it is not something that is done as the norm. It is not done with the regular annual monotony that we have in this place. I suppose what I am saying is that, if you are going to continue the annual report hearings process, this place needs to give due consideration to the best way to facilitate it. I think it could be tighter. I have to disagree with you, Mr Mulcahy: I do not think that it is as tight as it could be. You have said that it is a tight process. I think it could well be tightened up. As Mrs Burke alluded to—
Mr Mulcahy: That was a criticism of it: I am saying that it is too confining in terms of time.
MR SPEAKER: Order!
MS MacDONALD: I should not listen to Mr Mulcahy’s interjections, should I, Mr Speaker, because that would be disorderly.
MR SPEAKER: You can listen to them, but do not take any notice of them.
MS MacDONALD: All right then. I take the point that Mrs Burke made as well. When a minister appears before the committee, they have to bring along their departmental officials. Often they are sitting there for half a day never getting called on. A great deal of time and money is spent by those officials coming along to a hearing in which they may never actually get called upon. There are agencies within the ACT government that, year in and year out, are asked to come along; they spend half a day there and are asked maybe one question, if they are lucky. We could all name them. We could all put names to those agencies. They could be doing other things rather than appearing before the committees to talk about the annual reports.
I am not saying that you would not ever inquire into annual reports. There have been instances when the annual reports have raised issues of concerns within agencies. It is a very important role of the Assembly to scrutinise those annual reports. But is it the best function? Is it the best use of time? I urge future assemblies to keep that in mind. I commend this report to the Assembly.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Planning and Environment—Standing Committee
MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (10.47): I seek leave to move a motion to allow the Standing Committee on Planning and Environment to amend the reporting date for its inquiry into water use and management.