Page 4084 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 24 November 1993

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As Speaker I am not required to judge whether there has been a breach of privilege or a contempt of the Assembly. I can judge only whether the matter merits precedence. Having considered the newspaper article and Ms Szuty's complaint, I am prepared to allow precedence to a motion to refer the matter to the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedures.

Motion (by Ms Szuty) agreed to:

That the matter of the article in the Canberra Times of 12 November 1993 referring to the recommendations of the draft report of the Select Committee on Estimates 1993-94 be referred to the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedures as a matter relating to the privilege of the Assembly.

Report on Monitoring of Budget Supplementa
tion - Government Response

MS FOLLETT (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (3.12): Madam Speaker, for the information of members, I present the Government's response to report No. 3 by the Standing Committee on Public Accounts entitled "Monitoring of Budget Supplementation by the Legislative Assembly". I move:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

Madam Speaker, on behalf of the Government I would like to thank the Public Accounts Committee for its report "Monitoring of Budget Supplementation by the Legislative Assembly". I am sure that members will understand the delay in responding, due in large part to the intensive efforts needed to put together this year's budget. The Government strongly supports the role of the Public Accounts Committee as essential to open and accountable government. In this instance the reference to the committee follows the recommendation of the 1992 Select Committee on Estimates in its report on the Appropriation Bill 1992-93. In undertaking its inquiry the committee sought from me information on current arrangements by which agencies receive budget supplementation and the mechanisms by which the Assembly is advised of budget supplementation provided to agencies. The committee also questioned Treasury officials at its public hearings.

The committee's report raises a number of complex issues and, I believe, proposes very effective solutions to many of these issues. The Government strongly supports the view that the Assembly should be provided with timely and relevant information on budget issues. The Government fully supports greater accountability to the Assembly and the provision of information in a more meaningful and relevant form. I believe that the Government has already demonstrated its strong commitment to this and I will continue to ensure further improvement in future years.

In this regard it would be of benefit to limit the time available for tabling of documents in the Assembly. The committee recommended that, if the Assembly is sitting when an instrument relating to any form of budget supplementation is signed, the instrument should be tabled during that sitting period. If the Assembly is not sitting, the documentation should be forwarded to the Speaker within three calendar days for circulation to all members.

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