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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (8 December) . . Page.. 3223 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

and financial reports? The short answer, Mr Speaker, is "nothing". Without wishing to canvass in any detail possible alternatives to the current system, I can say in passing that maybe this Assembly should consider whether each portfolio committee could conduct its own examinations of annual reports in the future. Nevertheless, despite the Government's reservations about the tone and substance of the report, we have agreed, either in full or in part, to 13 of the committee's 19 recommendations. Details of the individual responses by the Government are contained in the report I have just tabled.

Mr Speaker, the 1997-98 financial year was the second in which the Territory reported in both accrual and outputs-based budgeting formats. The Government believes that there has been a dramatic improvement both in the monitoring and in the reporting of outputs and performance during the past 12 months. Indeed, the financial management reforms we introduced ahead of any government in Australia have bedded down very successfully. It is regrettable, Mr Speaker, that there does not appear to be a corresponding improvement in the level of understanding among at least some members of the Estimates Committee about what their task is meant to be.

Mr Speaker, I commend the Government's response to the Assembly and state again that the Estimates Committee is a very important part of our system of government.

MR BERRY (3.34): Mr Speaker, that was a disingenuous response to a committee report if ever I heard one. First of all, the Chief Minister denigrated the report and, in particular, the chair of that committee - me - but never noted once the endorsement of the report by the overwhelming majority of the committee's membership. She then went on to mislead people who might be listening to this debate by saying that the committee had said that Mr Moore should not introduce private members Bills. But you should read the recommendation, Chief Minister:

The committee recommends that the diversion of ministers from their portfolio responsibilities to promote and deal with their insignificant executive private member's business be avoided.

The very point that we made, I think very clearly, during the committee's inquiry was that the issue of private members business had no precedents other than in this place. You would not ever regard this place as the standard setter for the rest of the world, but there is no precedent in Australia for this sort of thing to occur. There are very different circumstances in the Northern Territory, where the Minister sought leave. But that is not the point. If there are issues where Ministers want to do something of a private nature for which they cannot get Cabinet's endorsement, that might be an appropriate course, by leave of the Assembly. But in this case the Government agreed. That was the very point we made. The Government agreed with the proposal put forward by the Minister. But why could they not agree in the Cabinet context and why could the Minister not deal with it accordingly, as was appropriate? That was the point we were making.

Ms Carnell: You are just proving that it has got nothing to do with estimates.

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