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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 06 Hansard (Tuesday, 22 June 2010) . . Page.. 2112 ..

thinks there should be a change because Ms Hunter does not actually like to criticise the Labor Party, the Labor government and the Labor budget brought down by her mate Katy Gallagher. It is all about minimising the criticism. And what we have seen here today is a pathetic attempt that does nothing more than give cross-referencing to where things were discussed.

The other day Ms Le Couteur had a good comment about the infrastructure report when she said it was really the budget with pictures. Well, this is now the index for the budget. That is all it is—and Ms Hunter should stand condemned for it.

MS LE COUTEUR (Molonglo) (11.19): I will only speak very briefly, because I was not a member of the estimates committee, but I would just like to comment on a few of the points that have been made by specifically the Liberal members.

Mr Smyth, I remember, said that because the budget was bigger in dollars this year then the budget report should be longer. I think there is a bit of a problem with this. There are a limited number of trees in the world and we do not wish to cut them all down to become budget reports, as Mr Hargreaves pointed out. The report just simply cannot grow in volume at the same rate as the dollars do. We have inflation for dollars but not inflation for trees. By this logic, the commonwealth would need to produce 10,000 pages of reports on the budget to provide the same level of scrutiny as in the Assembly, which of course is not possible.

The issue is what is in the report, not the size of the report. And that is where I think that what has happened this year has been particularly sad. I suppose I am still a bit naive; I have only been here a year and a half. I would really like to see the Assembly working as a whole and the non-executive members of the Assembly working as a whole to scrutinise the budget, to scrutinise what the government is saying.

One of the reasons this is particularly disappointing is that, as I am sure the Liberal Party know, the government are required to provide a response to the recommendations in the estimates report, but not to the recommendations in the dissenting report. So it means that, if there were any recommendations in the dissenting report which in fact could have been part of the main report—I have not read them all, but I would imagine that there are some—what the Liberal members have done is ensure that the government does not have to respond to those recommendations. What the Liberal Party have done by taking their bat and ball and getting out of the process has, unfortunately, been to reduce the scrutiny of the government, not increase the scrutiny of the government.

The Liberal Party have been talking about showing leadership. Unfortunately, by removing themselves from the process, they have not shown leadership. They have shown that if they are not the leader, if they are not the chair of the process, they do not want to even be part of it, and I think this is really sad in terms of the Assembly’s processes. We should be working together. We should be working together to get the best outcomes for the people of the ACT, for the families of the ACT, which the Liberal Party mentioned, instead of saying, “We don’t like some of this; therefore we are not going to be part of it.” That is not an approach which helps the government of the ACT, and I am really sad to see that this is what seems to have happened.

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