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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 April 2021) . . Page.. 804 ..

Economy and Gender and Economic Equality—Standing Committee—Report 2—Report on inquiries into Annual and Financial Reports 2019-20 and ACT Budget 2020-21 dated 7 April 2021, together with a copy of the extracts of the relevant minutes of proceedings.

I move:

That the report be noted.

I am pleased to speak on the Standing Committee on Economic and Gender and Economic Equality Report on inquiries into Annual and Financial Reports 2019-20 and ACT Budget 2020-21.

As members will be aware, annual reports are the principal and most authoritative way in which directors-general and equivalents, and chairpersons, account to the Legislative Assembly and other stakeholders, including the public, for the ways in which they have discharged their statutory and other responsibilities and utilised public funds over the preceding 12 months.

Further, as members will be aware, the annual budget is considered the most important economic tool of the government and provides a comprehensive statement of a jurisdiction’s priorities. While the executive is tasked with preparing and presenting a jurisdiction’s budget, the role of a parliament is to exercise oversight by reviewing a government’s draft budget, including revenue estimates and spending plans, and authorising the executive to raise revenue and spend money.

In December 2020, the majority of the 2019-20 annual and financial reports of all government agencies were referred to the relevant standing committees of the ACT Legislative Assembly. The ACT budget for 2020-21, which was due to be released in the Ninth Assembly, was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The budget was then presented on 9 February 2021. In the resolution establishing committees of the Tenth Assembly, the Assembly determined that, on presentation of the annual budget, appropriation units would stand referred across the seven standing committees in accordance with the areas of responsibility assigned to each committee. Accordingly, annual reports on the roles, functions and services of agencies and entities, and relevant appropriation units, covering a total of nine portfolios, were referred to this committee for inquiry and report.

With the change in practice from a single select committee inquiry focus to a multiple committee inquiry focus for examination of the budget, the committee considered how the longstanding practice of inviting input from community, industry and other representative stakeholder groups on the annual budget, via a survey, submissions or appearance at a designated public hearing date, could be accommodated. The committee was mindful that any practice it adopted in this regard needed to respect the initiative of each committee and avoid stakeholder groups putting in multiple submissions, whilst also providing an opportunity to contribute views on the budget.

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