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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 2770 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (11.57): Mr Speaker, I am, like other members of the Government, disappointed in the quality of this report and I was disappointed in the quality of the process by which the Estimates Committee went about its business. I had the overwhelming impression, sitting through sessions of the Estimates Committee this year, of being in a question time without structure, where anything and everything was being discussed with little or no relationship to the 1997-98 outcome or annual reports that were before the committee. It was an extremely disappointing process because the estimates process is important in assessing the performance of government departments and agencies in the course of the preceding year. I defy any member of this place to go back and read the Hansard of those committee hearings carefully and discover any particular focus on the performance of departments. There were some occasions where we emerged into that area, but for the most part it was simply a chance for members to pursue their pet topics before the committee.

Mr Speaker, the committee did not focus on the matters in the terms of reference. That is perfectly clear. I focus on one particular recommendation to prove that point, recommendation 10, which reads:

The committee recommends that the Government immediately rule out the privatisation of the Canberra Hospital or any part thereof.

What has that to do with the terms of reference? The terms of reference state:


(1) a Select Committee ... be appointed to examine the expenditure proposals contained in the Appropriation Bill 1998-99 ...

Was there any mention of privatisation there? No.

and any revenue estimates proposed by the Government in the 1998 Budget ...

Was there any relationship to that? No. I continue:

and the Annual and Financial Reports for the financial year 1997-98;

Was there any relationship to that? No. So, what has this got to do with the Estimates Committee? Absolutely nothing. Mr Berry has indulged in his usual penchant for attacking members of the Government, particularly Mr Moore and Mrs Carnell. That is his usual form and I suppose we should not expect any surprises. Old dogs cannot learn new tricks, I suppose, but I think it is disappointing. From what we have seen, it certainly has been an abuse of the Assembly's processes.

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