Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 2761 ..
MS CARNELL (continuing):
... a Select Committee on Estimates 1998-99 be appointed to examine the expenditure proposals contained in the Appropriation Bill 1998-99 and any revenue estimates proposed by the Government in the 1998 Budget and the Annual and Financial Reports for the financial year 1997-98;
After that it talks about reporting dates, who will be on the committee and when it will report. It also suggests that "the foregoing procedures for this resolution have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the standing orders". So, it contains all the normal things. But up-front, Mr Speaker, it is quite clear what was the Estimates Committee's role and job. It was very much to do with looking at issues that directly affect the Executive; yet the Executive did not get copies. In fact, the first copy, I have to say, I saw of the Estimates Committee report was the one that was dropped on the table when Mr Berry stood up to speak. That is totally out of line with the approach that has been taken in the past. I would suggest to the committee, particularly to the committee chair, that it is an approach that is at odds with normal Assembly practice.
Having had a look at the recommendations during the speeches, I cannot find one - mind you, there might be one or two - that actually addresses the terms of reference of the committee, and I would suggest to the committee that that might be a bit of a problem. It might not be a bit of a problem; it might be a very serious problem. Estimates committees are a very important part of the style of government that we have in the ACT, one that those opposite have supported totally, as I understand it, and we now have an estimates committee procedure that does not actually address the terms of reference of the committee.
I would like to quickly run through the recommendations in respect of the terms of reference: To look at the revenue and expenditure spelt out in the budget that we brought down for this year and the financial reports spelt out in the annual reports and financial statements. Mr Speaker, how could recommendation 1 be in line in any way with those terms of reference? It is a suggestion that Mr Moore should not bring down private members Bills. Members of the committee certainly can have an opinion on that, but I have to say that it was the view of this Assembly that Mr Moore be allowed to do it. I would suggest, if anything, that it is actually a reflection on the decision of this Assembly to allow Mr Moore to table his Bills, but it certainly has nothing to do with the terms of reference set down for the select committee.
I turn to recommendation 2. Yes, we made it very clear that ACTBIS was being reviewed and made it very clear that when the review was completed we would be very happy to make the report available. The old ACTBIS manual has been made available already. The new one will be made available. But how does that relate to the terms of reference? Where is the expenditure or revenue? There is not any, Mr Speaker. I could go on and on. There are certainly a number of recommendations to the Government with regard to policy direction. Members of the Assembly can always make recommendations to the Executive on the policy direction that they think we should be taking, but is the estimates process the place to do it? Certainly not if you look at the terms of reference of the Estimates Committee.