Canberra Times . . Page.. 1648 ..
The Greens do not support this view. Four people out of 17 formulated this budget, which belongs to a government that has a little over 40 per cent of the members of the whole Assembly. Should this very small group of people produce a budget that has had, and will have, if precedent is allowed to continue, virtually no input from any other members of this place? The Greens do not believe that the budget formulation method used by this Government and previous governments is a method that is suitable for this Assembly, with its minority government. We believe that all members of this place should have the opportunity to have much greater input into the budget process.
We note with interest the Government's comments on consultation, which appear in the front of this year's budget. If the Government believes that “invitations for all members of the Assembly to participate in the budget formulation discussions” was a truly consultative process, then we urge the Government to think again. At best, this process was an opportunity to present a wish list. At worst, this process was an attempt at deception. It was disappointing that, after the promises made at election time by the Chief Minister on open and consultative-style government, there has been little attempt to implement these promises for this year's budget, potentially the most important budget in this term as it theoretically locks us into a bottom line for the next three years. These promises were highlighted in an article in the Canberra Times of Thursday, 2 March this year, which said:
In a plan which would cast aside traditional budget secrecy, Mrs Carnell said she wanted the formulation of the budget to be “as open as humanly possible” to the rest of the Assembly. “My style is different - inclusion is better than exclusion”, she said. “... it would be preferable for as much as possible to be on the table. It is worth a go in a small Assembly”.
She went on to say:
All talent does not reside in the Liberal Party.
Another remark in the budget statement on consultation states:
... consultations and discussions were held with all major areas of the community. This included peak community and union groups, the business sector and environment groups.
It is unfortunate, then, that the major environment group in the ACT, the Conservation Council, was not included in these discussions. Real participation is about giving people the opportunity to input at all stages in the process, keeping them fully informed, asking them for their ideas and their opinions, and finally allowing them to take and express a different view. However, we also note that there are many people who sincerely believe that your Government is far more consultative than the previous one. If this is the case, the previous Government must have been appalling.