Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (22 April) . . Page.. 1188 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
I will also mention the fact that the Greens have, for some time, put up proposals for a permanent budget committee which had as an ongoing role more involvement with the finances of the Territory. If you accept that there is some value in that, it is not necessarily useful to start fragmenting the budget process and the annual reports are obviously related to the budget process. We get very little qualitative information in the budget and we are told to refer to the annual reports. There is obviously a close linkage between those two sets of documents, even though there is a time space between them. For those reasons, I will not be supporting Mr Kaine's amendments.
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer): Ms Tucker wants some arguments. I am happy to give her some arguments. We did give some in the earlier part of the debate, but I will come back to a couple of others. Mr Corbell, in his remarks, said that there was a problem of committees potentially meeting at the same time and that members who wanted to sit in on more than one inquiry as a participant - as a hanger-on, as it were - would be prevented from doing so. Mr Corbell overlooks the fact that Mr Hird is a member of virtually all the committees. Therefore, the committees cannot meet at the same time, with one exception, otherwise Mr Hird would not be able to appear at those committees. That, with respect, is not a problem, except in respect of the Education Committee - - -
Mr Hird: No, Chief Minister's.
MR HUMPHRIES: The Chief Minister's Committee, of which you, Mr Speaker, are a member. But that, I am sure, could be avoided by a judicious use of coordination between the committees. Ms Tucker raised the problem of the box-like nature of annual reports. Whereas I sympathise with the concern she raises - - -
Ms Tucker: Not annual reports; at the way you are governing.
MR HUMPHRIES: The process of a Minister appearing and saying, "I can only talk to you about my portfolio", and the problem of portfolios, I agree, is a problem, but it seems to me a problem of the very nature of any organisation, governments being only one example of that. The annual reports are the reports of the boxes that we describe as portfolios. My annual report is the annual report of the Department of Justice and Community Safety. If I am appearing before either the Justice and Community Safety Committee or the Estimates Committee and someone asks me about the impact of health policy, I am quite possibly not going to be able to answer the question because it is not within the terms of the area that I am reporting to the committee, to the Assembly and to the community about. I am sorry if that is the case, but it seems to be unavoidable. In any case, the problem of segmentalising government services is not solved by having a single committee analyse those issues as opposed to a series of separate committees. It merely acknowledges the fact that there are those separate committees dealing with separate issues in those separate reports.
Ms Tucker: Have the ability to look at them together, that is the whole point, to counter some of the problems of that.
MR SPEAKER: Order! If you want to have a talk, go outside.