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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 2216 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

I have to say that I think that there will be a great need for us to restructure and reorganise budget processes if we are to achieve the kind of cooperative budget development that the Greens particularly called for earlier today. It will mean members being prepared to put aside petty grandstanding of the kind I have just referred to. It will mean members not making decisions in government and then in opposition criticising precisely the same kinds of decisions because they cannot resist the temptation to put the boot in when somebody is under attack by sections of the community. We need to develop more maturity in our approaches. Mr Speaker, I confess to having succumbed to that temptation in the past as well. The recommendation that I am making is one that I will take to heart as much as I offer it to members opposite and on the crossbenches to take up. It is a process that will need to be taken up seriously if we are to adopt a wider and more consultative process of discussion on how we formulate budgets, not merely how we process them and approve them through the Assembly.

MS McRAE (3.40), in reply: I am afraid that my understanding of the world was not much advanced by hearing from my colleagues opposite. There is nothing I like hearing more than a personal attack, because I know that then all else has failed. They have nothing of substance to talk about. They did not challenge the detail, the numbers or the recommendations of the Estimates Committee report. They simply said what a terrible and awful person I was. I score that as a very big success. It seems to me that by playing the person and not the ball they have concurred with our conclusions, the process, the outcome and the very good report.

When we look at the Government's response, at first blush it is very positive, will lead to ongoing dialogue as each estimates committee looks at the budgets for the following two years and forms some basis for negotiation for a much improved process for this Assembly. There are, however, a few grave concerns. We are being told that, because of the adoption of output and accrual budgeting principles, the 1996-97 budget papers will be presented in a form substantially different from that of previous years. This is not news, but what is of grave concern is that we can again end up with the mishmash of uncomparable papers that we had this year. If that happens, I will personally lead the charge in a no-confidence motion. We put you on notice now that there must be clear explanatory notes so that everyone, including me, can understand from one page to the next what you are talking about. That was not evident at all this year.

Mr Humphries: They would have to be very expansive notes in that case.

MS McRAE: Mr Humphries, if you do not like the way the Estimates Committee conducted its business, you are very welcome to join this side of the chamber, become a member of the Estimates Committee and conduct business your way. I like to hear such criticism, because this seat is just waiting for you. We will swap any time you like. Other areas of the Government's response are of concern. Page 3 states:

The Government does not agree with the request to spell out all Budget cuts, as, in many instances, the strategies for achieving efficiencies are in the process of negotiation with relevant parties and should not be pre-empted by management. Moreover, the focus of future budgets will be on outputs and the performances of agencies, rather than spending per se.

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