Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 3058 ..
MR HARGREAVES (continuing):
If the committee looking into the Chief Minister's portfolio is trying to arrange for a template to go across departments which will assist in the process, I think they should be encouraged to do so, because they do have an overarching thing across the rest of our departments. Planning is in the same boat. Mr Speaker, I think we ought to settle down for a couple of minutes and just think about it. I would ask Mr Hird to think about the relative roles of the two committees. A point has been made and I think the point has been taken on this side of the house. I would ask that we not proceed with the motion to refer it to your good offices, Mr Speaker, because I do not think it is necessary.
MR KAINE (11.52): Mr Speaker, I must say that I find Mr Hird's reaction to this matter quite bizarre, and I will explain why in a minute. It looks to me like a case of the old bull and the brash young bull carving out a territorial imperative somewhere. That is what it seems to me, that the old bull is trying to defend his empire. As to the motion put forward by Mr Hird, I take the view - and I am not pretending to advise you, Mr Speaker; I am merely commenting - that you would have to reject it out of hand, because what Mr Hird is implying in this motion is that the Chief Minister's Portfolio Committee in its role as the public accounts committee has no right to look at financial matters. That is what Mr Hird is, essentially, saying.
The Chief Minister's Portfolio Committee subsumes the public accounts committee and in that role it is our function to look at the accounts of the Government. Of course, the accounts of the Government very much include the capital works program because it translates into money. The reason why the public accounts committee has chosen to look at this matter is that we found that we could not trace the financial accounts, the financial transactions, arising from the capital works program from one year to the next. There was no way that you could take last year's capital works program as expressed in financial terms in the budget and track it through to this year's budget and know what was happening. So, we sought from OFM an explanation as to how we could devise a system so that the financial trail could be tracked. That is all we are planning to do.
If Mr Hird believes that that is not a function of the public accounts committee, that it is properly a function of the Urban Services Committee, I am afraid that he will have to explain to me how that is the case, because the terms of reference of the Chief Minister's Portfolio Committee in the role of the public accounts committee of this place are quite clear. I think that the chairman of the Chief Minister's Portfolio Committee has been quite magnanimous in informing Mr Hird, as chairman of the Urban Services Committee, that we are proposing to do so and we will make him a beneficiary of whatever we learn from it. How on earth could Mr Hird possibly take exception to that? Unlike my magnanimous chair, I make no apology as a member of the public accounts committee for taking on this matter.
I said that I thought that the course of action that Mr Hird was proposing was a bit bizarre because, in fact, the Speaker is one of the members of the public accounts committee who took the decision to go this route. To ask him now to make a judgment about whether the decision of the public accounts committee of which he is a member is right or wrong is rather odd, to say the least, because I do not know on what basis the