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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 6 Hansard (23 May) . . Page.. 1746 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

Mr Speaker, this amendment is also essential if the Government's outputs are really going to be about achieving social, environmental and economic outcomes for the Territory. The document put out by the Government called "ACT Public Service - A Guide to Performance Measurement for Outputs" talks about the process for establishing outputs and monitoring performance. The Auditor-General has an important role in this process. It says that the Auditor-General is on the outputs committee and is also involved in the ongoing monitoring of performance against performance measures. I would hope that both the outputs and the performance measures are broadly defined and consider environmental and social factors as well as economic performance. If the Auditor-General is involved in all these processes, I think it is absolutely essential that the brief of the Auditor-General be broader than just economic efficiency. Mr Speaker, I urge members to support this amendment, which can only bring about better decision-making and set a standard for other States to follow in terms of putting the theory of ecologically sustainable development into practice.

MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (6.33): Mr Speaker, this proposed amendment is not at all necessary. The Bill as drafted certainly does not preclude the Auditor-General from being a part of assessing all costs and benefits, including environmental and social costs and benefits. I think Ms Tucker was not sure which side she was actually arguing for when she made the comments that she did, because she went through the exercise of making it clear that the Auditor-General had been part of the outputs committee and how the new budget was going to be formatted, which meant that it was going to be based upon outcomes and, of course, outputs. Those outcomes and outputs include environmental and social issues, so they must inevitably be part of the Auditor-General's role in looking at the budget. Ms Tucker herself put in her argument the exact reason why this amendment simply is not necessary.

Placing these sorts of requirements on the Auditor-General is inappropriate, Mr Speaker. Specific issues relating to the environment are properly matters for the Environment Commissioner to report on. Again, Mr Speaker, the role of the Auditor-General, very rightly, is to make comments on the efficiency of particular areas of government and, of course, on the budget generally. I do not know how many briefings Ms Tucker has had on the way the budget is going to be put together now, but she would remember that it will be put together in a way that will mean that the actual output - what the Government is actually producing for the taxpayer's dollar - will be there in the budget. Those will be environmental issues, social issues, and, certainly, financial matters as well. So all of those things must be taken into account by the Auditor-General when the Auditor-General looks at how our budget is put together, how it works, and how we are performing against it. That, in a nutshell, explains why this is an unnecessary amendment. There is nothing, Mr Speaker - to state it again - that limits the Auditor-General's role, including his role in independently assessing the effectiveness of even the Environment Commissioner's work, if he chooses to do so.

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