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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 16 September 2021) . . Page.. 2674 ..

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent the Financial Management Amendment Bill 2021 being called and debated forthwith.

Financial Management Amendment Bill 2021

Debate resumed.

MS LEE (Kurrajong—Leader of the Opposition) (6.10): The Financial Management Amendment Bill 2021 seeks to make amendments to the Financial Management Act 1996, and the bill was, of course, tabled earlier today. As our already delayed budget is once again delayed to 6 October, the passage of this bill today is necessary to ensure that appropriate funds are available to government to continue running the territory.

Continuing our constructive working relationship with the government to ensure that the necessary functions of government can continue during this lockdown, the Canberra Liberals will be supporting this bill. Whilst we will be supporting this bill today, I do put on the record our call to be kept well-informed about the government’s use of appropriated funds during this important period for our community.

As representatives of the Canberra community, I am sure that all members in this place have witnessed and empathised with the economic hardship that so many Canberrans are currently facing. Government spending priorities during the coming months must support those Canberrans doing it tough, our small businesses that have kept our city moving but have been so let down by the delays in the processing of critically needed business support payments, and our vulnerable Canberrans who have lost income or other support they rely on.

There are three main parts of this bill. The first is clause 4, which amends section 7(1)(c) of the FMA. The FMA currently limits the amount of funding available to the government during the supply period to 50 per cent of the amount appropriated for the immediately previous financial year. Clause 4 increases that to 75 per cent of the amount appropriated in the appropriation acts for the 2020-21 financial year.

In a briefing on this bill, we were advised that the figure of 75 per cent was calculated based on the number of months delay in delivering the budget beyond the financial year. We note that this 75 per cent increase, whilst higher than the usual 50 per cent in any other financial year, is lower than the 100 per cent increase that we saw last financial year when the pandemic first hit our city.

The second is clause 5, which amends section 18(2)(a) of the FMA. Clause 5 increases the Treasurer’s advance from one per cent to five per cent. This is a significant increase, representing a significant sum of money. Last year, the FMA was also amended to increase the Treasurer’s advance from one per cent to five per cent. We understand that last year the Treasurer’s advance approved as a percentage of total appropriation was 0.7 per cent, or about $42 million—clearly not coming anywhere near five per cent. We were advised in our briefing that this amendment is being

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