Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 2174 ..
MR MOORE (continuing):
Mr Speaker, the committee drew attention to a couple of other funding issues. One was mandatory reporting of child abuse. The Minister has already responded positively on that, although I think entirely inadequately. Mandatory reporting can be introduced only if there is substantial funding to support it. Otherwise, the results are going to be disastrous. Mr Kaine rightly pointed out that the other recommendations are mainly about process. Having been a member of every estimates committee of the Assembly since its inception, I find it particularly frustrating that, although we continue to make recommendations about process and some of them are taken up, some recommendations are barely taken up. Perhaps we need to focus on one or two and reiterate those, rather than have the simple ones adopted and the others largely ignored.
Mr Speaker, I think we have a particularly good Estimates Committee report. I would like to thank all those people involved in getting it to this stage. It is a great deal of work to examine the budget estimates, to examine the appropriation proposals. The efforts of the Ministers and the members of the public service who appeared before us, the secretarial staff, and the chair and members of the committee have produced a good result. It is not a result that should be taken lightly. Each of the recommendations should be considered individually in the light of the text of the report. Often the government responds to the recommendations but ignores the text of the report. I think it is very important that the Government look not only at the recommendations but also at the text. For various reasons, a series of things that appear in the text did not become part of the recommendations, but it is important that they be considered by the Government.
MR HIRD (11.29): Mr Speaker, the function of the Estimates Committee is a very important part of the Legislative Assembly. The committee provides the opportunity for members of the parliament to scrutinise the budget programs. Scrutiny was undertaken not only by the members of this committee. All members of this parliament were allowed to question witnesses who gave evidence. All Ministers appeared before the committee, Mr Speaker. Members may be aware that this does not happen in some other parliaments. Not only were Ministers cross-examined; senior public servants were cross-examined also. The examination was full. The committee undertook a complete scrutiny of the 1995-96 budget, program by program.
The committee has a duty, indeed, a responsibility, Mr Speaker, to make all departments accountable for spending undertaken each year. The procedures undertaken by this select committee will, I suggest, improve as time goes on. As example of this, if we look back at former estimates committees over past years since the establishment of this place, there has been a marked improvement. An example of this, Mr Speaker, is Budget Paper No. 2 entitled "Your Money at Work", the easy-to-read guide to the budget details. This budget paper allows the person in the street to know and to understand where his money will be spent. This is definitely a progressive move by the Carnell Government; but, of course, there will always be room for improvement, and we acknowledge that.