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PLANNING AND ENVIRONMENT - STANDING COMMITTEE
Report on Draft Capital Works Program
MR MOORE (3.35): Mr Speaker, I present Report No. 3 of the Standing Committee on Planning and Environment entitled “Report on the Government's 1995-96 Draft Capital Works Program”, together with the extracts of the minutes of proceedings. I move:
That the report be noted.
It was quite refreshing for a committee like ours to get such a rapid and positive government response. On Friday, Mr Speaker, after you authorised the publication of this report out of session, we released it, as a committee, at a press conference with all four members present, at 10.30 am. By the afternoon the media were back contacting me and asking how I reacted to the Government's response in taking on board the recommendations; to which I could say nothing other than that I was absolutely delighted.
I think that part of the reason was that a great deal of the committee's attention was focused on administration and administrative issues. I think that what the committee has done is point to a series of difficulties in the process which, I believe, the Government should have addressed earlier. We had written to the Chief Minister suggesting that we look at the draft capital works program as early as, I think, April or March - something of that order - and we eventually managed to get the draft capital works program about two or three weeks before we reported.
In that time it became very clear to us that there was a series of major problems. It is very unusual, I think, for a committee to write into its recommendations something like we did in recommendation 4.50, namely:
The Standing Committee on Planning and Environment gives agencies notice that it will consider recommending to the Assembly that proposed expenditure in future years’ Draft Capital Works Programs not be endorsed unless adequate documentation has been provided to the Executive and the committee.
For a committee to say that we will consider holding up the capital works budget under those circumstances was, as far as we were all concerned, a particularly serious matter. But it was also important to point out, as we did in our report, that the Chief Minister had written to us and suggested a different process for the draft capital works program so that we would have time to see whether there was a problem like that and send it back.
Nevertheless, the overriding message of this report is that the capital works process was entirely inadequate and that we wanted to see something done about it. Recommendation 4.43 emphasises that by stating:
The committee recommends that the government ensure a clear statement is provided for all proposed capital works about how each project fits within the overall priorities and long-term strategy of each agency and of the government.