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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (8 December) . . Page.. 3222 ..


That the Assembly authorises the publication of the Auditor-General's Report No. 8 of 1998.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Report on Annual and Financial Reports for 1997-98 - Government Response

MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (3.30): Mr Speaker, for the information of members, I present the Government's response to the Select Committee on Estimates 1998-99 report, entitled "Annual and Financial Reports for 1997-98", which was presented to the Assembly on 24 November. I move:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

Mr Speaker, I present the Government's response to the report of the Select Committee on Estimates following its examination of annual and financial reports for the year 1997-98. The Government regards the committee's report as extremely disappointing, for a number of reasons. There were thousands of performance indicators upon which agencies and the Government could be judged, yet barely any of them rated a mention in this report. Instead, we were treated to another episode in a long-running series of personal attacks on individual public servants by the chair of the committee and also by his Labor Party colleague.

Mr Speaker, the less said about this, I have to say, the better. Those of us who have been members of the Assembly for several terms, with the exception of Mr Berry perhaps, would agree that this report is a far cry from the more thorough examinations carried out by previous estimates committees. The credibility of the estimates process has, in my view, been all but demolished in the eyes of the Assembly and the community by the actions of the current chairman. In this regard, the Government strongly endorses the views expressed in the two dissenting reports - one by Mr Hird and the other by Mr Hird and Mr Rugendyke.

The Estimates Committee is an important part of our system of government. That is why I have already stated publicly that I believe that the Assembly should consider reviewing the value and effectiveness of the current estimates process. Members should be aware that the approximate cost to agencies of preparing for and attending estimates hearings is about $280,000 - over a quarter of a million dollars, Mr Speaker. It also consumes thousands of hours of public servants' time. And I have to ask: Is the taxpayer getting value for money? I do not think so, Mr Speaker.

Perhaps the best example I can use is a recommendation by the committee that Mr Moore should not introduce private members Bills. Apart from the fact that, as Chief Minister, I also introduced a private members Bill in the last Assembly as a member of the Executive, what on earth does that have to do with estimates and the scrutiny of annual

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