Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 1 Hansard (28 April) . . Page.. 93 ..
MR KAINE (continuing):
the Government's accounts. That confused me a bit because paragraph (2) of this motion makes a particular committee responsible for the former duties of the Public Accounts Committee. It lists them. It refers to the accounts of the receipts and expenditure of the Australian Capital Territory, the financial affairs of authorities of the ACT, and all reports of the Auditor-General.
If that is the case, what financial review functions do the other committees mentioned in subparagraphs (b), (c), (d) and (e) have? If all of the functions of the old Public Accounts Committee are concentrated in the Committee for the Chief Minister's Portfolio, surely that is where the authority and responsibility reside. I would ask Mr Osborne, the mover of this motion, just what financial and fiscal oversight functions he envisages these other committees having if the functions of the Public Accounts Committee are all centred on this one committee. It seems to me that this is quite confusing, and the chairs of these other committees, I suspect, will not know what their responsibilities are or how they overlap with the responsibility of the Chief Minister's Portfolio Committee unless there is some amplification of that matter now.
I come to this debate with a bit of a handicap, since I was specifically excluded from previous discussions on the matter of these committees. Presumably, some of the other members present are better informed than I am on what the intentions were in establishing these committees in this way. If Mr Osborne's paragraph (2) is to stand, then surely subparagraphs (b), (c), (d) and (e) of paragraph (1) must have a rider at the end that says, "With the exception of the financial oversight function, the responsibility of the Chief Minister's Portfolio Committee", or words to that effect. Otherwise there is a duplication of function and an overlapping of function, and one would never know, as a member of a particular committee, who is doing what or whether some particular aspect of the budget is being looked at by anybody, until all the reports are in. Then we would sit down and say, "We overlooked some significant aspect of the budget that nobody looked at".
As I said, Mr Speaker, I am merely seeking some amplification of this. It is Mr Osborne's motion. Perhaps, before the debate is concluded, he might clarify that issue for me. It may be that all the other members are quite clear on this, but I would like to have it clarified as to where the financial and physical oversight responsibility is going to reside under this committee structure.
MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (4.31): Mr Speaker, as Mr Osborne is not here, maybe I can help with that. The proposal is that the Public Accounts Committee functions are held in the Chief Minister's Portfolio Committee and the Scrutiny of Bills Committee functions are held in the Justice and Community Safety Committee. What the other committees may choose to do but not have responsibility to do is to look at such things as the monthly reports that are tabled in this place and to assess, say in health, such things as the activity reports and the financial statements that come down as part of that. Mr Moore will be able to make a comment on that.