Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 2 December 2020) . . Page.. 67 ..
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (11.55): The Greens are pleased to support this motion today and thank the various members that have worked to put it together and to come up with agreement on the various committee structures. I think there is a good grouping of issues in the committees here.
We are particularly pleased to see that the economy and gender and economic equality committee has been formed, because the Greens have particularly highlighted the issue of wanting to have a specific committee that looked at gender equality issues through the course of the election campaign. We think that having it explicitly drawn out provides an ongoing focus for a committee in its remit to keep a focus on these issues. We think that that will be a positive thing that will ensure that a range of questions get asked on an ongoing basis that should be asked to make sure that we continue to address issues of gender inequality in our city. I am pleased that it is also picking up economic inequality, which is a gender issue but there are a range of other measures of inequality. That committee has a very important role to play and I look forward to seeing the outcomes from that committee.
We are also pleased that there is a trial this year of not having an estimates committee but in fact having the issues committee look at the budget in the areas in which they have developed expertise. This is a topic that has been discussed in this Assembly for some time now. Over a number of years—I cannot think how many now—there has been an ongoing discussion about whether we should try this approach or stick with the traditional estimates committee, in which a subgroup of members has to sit in a room for two weeks non-stop and try to look at all the areas of the budget.
Everyone has always thought this could be a good way to do it but been a little uncertain about whether it is the right answer. So I think it is a positive that at least we have agreement amongst the parties that we will try it this year and see how it goes. The merit of it is that it will enable areas that have developed some expertise on an issue, particularly as we get a year or two into the Assembly, to really follow through with particular agencies and with particular ministers to scrutinise topics in more detail because they have that ongoing built-up knowledge.
The concern that has always been had is whether we will have an overall look at the budget and whether that will be a shortcoming in this chamber looking at the overall strategic direction of the budget. The public accounts committee has been charged with that role to some extent and has been authorised through this motion to be the one that will commission the external input into the budget review and the like.
I will be fascinated to see how it goes this year. I am positive about this change because I think it will bring a better level of expertise to key areas of the budget. But I think we should all go into this year’s dual round of estimate sittings with an open mind on how this process goes. We will certainly be open to discussion with our Assembly colleagues on whether it does work as a process or whether we want to revert to the old way of doing it.
Finally, on Mr Hanson’s amendment, we will not be supporting the amendment. I just had a very brief conversation with Mr Hanson. Having sat on the committee that made