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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 September 2014) . . Page.. 3069 ..

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

MADAM SPEAKER (Mrs Dunne) took the chair at 10 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Government Procurement (Transparency in Spending) Amendment Bill 2014

Mr Coe, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR COE (Ginninderra) (10.02): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

The Government Procurement (Transparency in Spending) Bill 2013 will increase transparency and accountability in the way the government spends taxpayers’ money. My bill is the logical and reasonable next step in advancing the move towards open government. The ACT government spends in excess of $4 billion of taxpayers’ money every year. Whether the funds come to the ACT government through car registrations, rates, land tax, GST by the commonwealth or the many other forms of income, all funds ultimately come from individuals and organisations who have worked very hard for every cent.

I believe that governments should not spread their tentacles far and wide but should concentrate on core priorities and do them well. I am disheartened when I hear of government venturing into spaces which should be the exclusive domain of the private sector. My bill will help ensure that there is scrutiny of government spending. Whilst it will always be hard to bring to light how the government spends every dollar, this bill, if enacted, will see a significant expansion in the disclosure of spending by the ACT government.

If enacted this would be a truly progressive move. It would demonstrate the progress we have made in the Assembly, the ACT government and, indeed, democracy in the territory. It would demonstrate that we are happy to shine a brighter light on how taxpayers’ funds are being spent. We would not be the first jurisdiction in the world to enact such legislation but we would certainly be one of the first, if not the leader, in Australia.

I would like to advise members of some councils and governments abroad who have taken a similar step in publishing similar information. The Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in the United Kingdom present a monthly document on their website where the charges to a specific cost centre are greater than or equal to £100. It is not an arduous process for the council, simply the generation of a report from their accounting software which is then uploaded onto their website in PDF and Excel format. Members should also investigate the Calderdale District Council, the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the London Borough of Redbridge, and the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, who are all leaders in this space.

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