Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 1500 ..
MR QUINLAN (continuing):
This year's budget was better prepared than last year's but it still has a long way to go. I recommend and support the continuation of the extension of access by community groups to the Estimates Committee to allow the people a voice and to allow them to face administrators and those of us in government who are shaping the city in which they live.
I will close by making some reference to a matter that the Chief Minister brought up, Bruce Stadium, and the questioning on that. Bruce Stadium is shaping up as a fiasco. It has been placed in a black-and-white frame by the Minister. It is not sufficient to say, "If you do not like what is happening at Bruce Stadium, you are against the Raiders, you are against the Brumbies, you are against Olympic soccer". We are in favour of all those things. We are just not in favour of cock-ups. This reference to the Raiders and the Brumbies is a screen behind which the Government wishes to hide. I think it was Samuel Johnson who said, "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel".
MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (5.07): I also took a very keen interest in the Estimates Committee hearings this year. As Mr Quinlan has just said, I found it an extremely useful process. I am surprised that members of the Government and others have described the process and the report as a farce. They have made fairly extreme criticisms of the way in which the meetings were conducted. I was extremely interested. I found the hearings very useful. I found them too short. I quite genuinely believe the estimates process could be expanded. I did not feel there was enough time to question officials on the range of issues that I wished to question officials on.
I would have liked much more time to question officials in depth on issues related to administration and policies. I would have liked Ministers to interfere far less than they did in the questioning process. To some extent it pains me to have to admit it, but Mr Moore was the Minister most inclined to allow his officials to answer for themselves. Other Ministers, I found, basically badgered, cadged and jumped in on top of their officials, squashing them and not allowing them the opportunity to be involved in detailed questioning. Mr Stefaniak is here. The sessions that I did not attend were those involving Mr Stefaniak's portfolio, so I do not know how Mr Stefaniak performed in the Estimates Committee.
I formally acknowledge the Chief Minister's scathing criticisms of the report. The fact that it is a farce is a reflection very much on Mr Osborne and Mr Rugendyke. It intrigues me that Mr Rugendyke has accepted the Chief Minister's condemnation of the report as a farce. I think it is quite bizarre that members of the majority not only accept the Government's criticisms of a report which they signed off on but actually endorsed the very wording. I am not quite sure what that says, but it is bizarre.
Far from the very shallow criticisms which the Government has made of the report, the committee raised quite legitimate questions upon a wide range of issues which go to the administration of the Government of the ACT. It is hardly to be expected that after close scrutiny the committee would not raise a wide range of issues of real concern to the community. This report certainly does that. I find peculiar the suggestion that the Estimates Committee should not look at the administration of departments. Surely that goes to the heart of budgets and the expenditure of money. Budgets are about the way in which moneys are administered, departments are administered and things are done. Budgets are about the processes that are utilised by an administration.