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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 4 Hansard (18 April) . . Page.. 1036 ..

MRS CARNELL (continuing):

a means of ensuring that reports of this sort are available to MLAs almost immediately upon the Chief Minister's receipt of them, rather than having to wait until the Assembly sits so that they can be tabled. I think this amendment makes sense, Mr Speaker, and I commend the amendment to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Whitecross) adjourned.


MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (10.34): Mr Speaker, I present the Financial Management Bill 1996, together with its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.


That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, the Financial Management Bill I am presenting today sets new standards in accountability for, and disclosure of, public sector finances. It builds on the framework for new financial management and Auditor-General legislation I tabled in the Assembly in December 1995. The framework document represents the Government's policy intentions. It outlined the principles underlying our financial management reforms. The Bill reflects the results of consultation, further development work, and changes needed to translate policy intentions into legislation.

The existing Audit Act is based on the Commonwealth Audit Act 1901. It is out of date. It is not based on contemporary principles of effective financial management or public accountability. It was an interim, short-term measure. I am very proud of the fact that the Assembly now has the opportunity to redress this, an opportunity to overcome one of the most serious deficiencies in the legislation governing and regulating how the ACT is governed. The Bill sets a new direction. Its prime objectives are to reinforce the primacy of the Legislative Assembly's role in the parliamentary budget and financial accountability process; to promote the highest standards of financial accountability to the Legislative Assembly and to the community; to enhance transparency in budget decision-making at all levels - the Legislative Assembly, the Executive and the Public Service; and to promote improved and better-informed management decision-making.

I would like to turn to the major provisions of the Bill. First, I mention those dealing with the Territory budget and appropriations. Mr Speaker, the Bill, in clause 7, provides for automatic supply to enable processes of government to continue while the budget is developed and considered by the Assembly. The existing supply mechanism has been unsatisfactory. The new provision removes the duplication of effort involved in the current process. It incorporates the no-policy-change period for the first part of the new financial year until the budget is passed. It observes the convention adopted by the Assembly in the past that the supply provision should reflect the immediately preceding Appropriation Act.

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