Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 November 2021) . . Page.. 3462 ..
fashion and taking it seriously. It just shows you that this is just rubberstamping what the Labor Party and the Greens come up with behind the scenes. They are treating the committee process with contempt and they are treating this Assembly with contempt by ramming through like this this budget response to all of those committees.
The opposition is very disappointed. We do not want to see this repeated. Yes, there have been issues this year—I do not dispute that—but we proposed a way forward that would have allowed for proper consideration by the committees and for us to have a report in time where it could be examined by members before they were required to speak on the budget. It just shows you what a farce this process is.
Let me make it very clear that next year we need to make sure that we re-instigate the process where we have a select committee. The standing committees next year are going to be required to do two annual reports as it is. We want to see committees inquiring into bills that are tabled in this place and we want to see committees conducting inquiries into other matters. We need to have a select committee that can look at the budget in its entirety through a considered process, and not this fiasco that we have this year. I will not comment on the detail of the budget. I will do that, and all the members will do that, against the various line items. But let me say we are bitterly disappointed with this process.
MR BARR (Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Climate Action, Minister for Economic Development and Minister for Tourism) (10.24), in reply: In closing, to respond to Mr Hanson, the government tabling its response to whichever structure of committee inquires into the budget at the commencement of the budget debate has been standard practice for 15 years, if not longer. This is normal, apart from in previous times with the budget in June and then estimates taking place through late June, sometimes into early July, when the Assembly would resume in August to debate the budget.
We now have six sitting days to debate the detail of the Appropriation Bill, the Appropriation (Office of the Legislative Assembly) Bill and the government response to each of the recommendations from the committees. I think it is highly unlikely that we will use all six days on the budget debate. It is obviously in the hands of members as to how long they wish to speak on each part of the budget.
The suggestion is that this is an unusual approach and that we can only respond once we have received the recommendations from the committees. The time frame between the budget being tabled and now is nearly two months. We have had an extended period for committees to deliberate. I did not seek to bring forward the budget debate any earlier than now, and we are giving it two full weeks.
When I started in this place, we had three days to debate the budget and one of those days was consumed mostly with private members’ business. We would often sit well into the evening. The number of hours of budget debate is in fact longer now, deliberately, because it is the most important bill that this Assembly debates each year. That is why it is given a fortnight of sittings. In the past, when things have been a little bit compacted and impacted by COVID, we had four consecutive days. But we always give time for budget debates.