Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 3056 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
That, to me, seems quite a legitimate distinction, quite a reasonable one. I think the Chief Minister's Portfolio Committee is to be commended for going to this level of detail on what sorts of criteria are being used in the draft capital works budget. I think there is an opportunity, once Mr Quinlan's committee has reported, for the Urban Services Committee in its deliberations on the next financial year's draft capital works budget to use the work that that committee has done in its assessment of that budget.
It seems to me to be quite a sensible proposal and I would ask Mr Hird to reconsider it, because I think it is not an unreasonable proposition. It shows that there is a complex range of issues that can be addressed, and addressed quite legitimately, by the Chief Minister's Portfolio Committee separate from the Urban Services Committee. I certainly will not be supporting Mr Hird's motion.
MR QUINLAN (11.42): Mr Speaker, my committee has responsibility for examining the doings of the Chief Minister's portfolio. The Chief Minister's portfolio includes the Treasury. The capital works budget was compiled by OFM.
Mr Hird: Why didn't you tell me about it?
MR QUINLAN: I am going to tell you about it. On Friday last my committee had hitherto done no more than want to understand the capital works budget because it is an integral part of the overall Territory budget which is put together by OFM within the Chief Minister's portfolio, which my committee is charged to review. As of Friday last my committee, dissatisfied with the progress in just explaining to us how the budget is going to be put together - no intent of inquiry whatsoever - decided that it was necessary to take more formal action because, apparently, this problem is not a new problem. Apparently within this place there have been annual promises to restructure the capital works budget so that one can read it, so that one can reconcile previous years with the current year, and nothing has happened in that regard.
The current committee structure is different from previous committee structures. We have debated that in this place. I take chairmanship of my committee seriously. I take the requirement that we need to provide clear information to this place, all of this place, seriously. We pursued that in my committee formally with a view to just understanding the capital works budget so that we could discharge our more general responsibilities in relation to the overall budget. Last Friday we discussed the matter and said, "Look, we really need to formalise it. In fact, rather than keep asking OFM to review the structure of the budget and come back to us, how about if we put together some suggestions". How do you do that? I was advised by my more experienced committee members that the way to do that is to have a formal inquiry. We are not trying to play that up, make it a big deal. We are not calling witnesses, whatever. All we understand is that to be in a position to bring to this Assembly our suggestions for the structure of a capital works budget, we need to go through the facade, the routine, or the procedure of having an inquiry.
That is what we decided to do. So, at the first instance possible, we have advised the Assembly. Let me say that because my committee reviews the Chief Minister's portfolio, because OFM is included in that, because OFM is in charge of the budget, every damned thing is influenced by it. We had discussed that and we had said, "Yes, when we have