Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 1692 ..
MS CARNELL (continuing):
Every year we certainly take on board any comments that the Estimates Committee make with regard to transparency. I think it was really gratifying to read the comment by Crispin Hull that overall he thought that the ACT public sector accounting was probably the most transparent and accessible of the eight State and Territory governments. I think that is a big tick. We have told Mr Berry a thousand times that the "Budget at a glance" document last year was on an appropriation basis. It was decided that full expenditure disclosure would be more accurate, and that is the basis of the document this year, simply because we were trying to improve the system.
Mr Corbell made some comments about outputs and how they were far too broad now. The reason we went to fewer outputs is that that is what the Auditor-General said we should do. He said we had too many outputs and too many performance indicators to make them really mean anything. Mr Corbell also suggested that questions were asked about outputs and performance indicators when the Chief Minister's Department came before the Estimates Committee. Remember that Chief Ministers is OFM, OAM and the areas of government that relate to budgets and to things like business, tourism and the arts. Mr Speaker, not one question was asked of the Chief Minister's Department about performance indicators, outputs or comparability across departments. None of those questions were even - - -
Mr Corbell: That is not true.
MS CARNELL: Sorry, it is true. Not one question was asked of the Chief Minister's Department. I cannot make a comment about other parts of estimates, simply because I was not there, but I do know what happened in the Chief Minister's Department. Those sorts of questions simply were not asked.
One comment that Mr Kaine made I found absolutely remarkable. Mr Kaine said that he believed that the Government had been undermining ACTEW for the last two years. That is a very serious comment, because ACTEW is our major asset. The reason I find it most amazing is that Mr Kaine was a shareholder. For Mr Kaine to accept the role of shareholder and to turn up at shareholders meetings and get all the papers, and at the same time to believe that we were somehow undermining the organisation, and for him not to have done anything about it if that was the case, I must admit, leaves me horrified. The good part of it is that it was not true. There has been no undermining of ACTEW at all. In fact, ACTEW's profitability in the year just finished is the highest that I have ever seen. It may even be an all-time record. So much for undermining the organisation.
I was also interested in Mr Berry's comments with regard to the budget generally. This is the man who decided he could fund his election promises from the cash line on the balance sheet. He was suggesting that he really did understand accrual accounting because he produced their election promises in accrual form. Remember how he did that. He used the cash line of the balance sheet to fund his election promises. Maybe he did not know, but that cash line was reliant in outyears on the sale of the streetlights. That is where a very large percentage of the cash that he attempted to use came from. If I was Mr Berry, I would probably shut up about those sorts of things.