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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (6 May) . . Page.. 1574 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

for the sheer bulk of numbers and the particular configurations in which they are presented to disguise the specific type of information that is most useful to non-government members in monitoring the Government's revenue-raising and expenditure activities. There may be a need to write into the Act specific reporting requirements that will assist members to scrutinise the budget more effectively.

I think this inquiry is very timely and necessary in ensuring that government funds are managed to the highest possible standard and I look forward to Assembly support for this inquiry. I understand that Mr Quinlan will be moving an amendment to extend the reporting date. After the previous debate, where members moved an inquiry from a select committee to the public accounts committee, there is going to be a lot of work for that committee, so I would imagine that an extension of time will be needed even more.

MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (10.57): Mr Speaker, we will not be opposing this motion. In fact, we perceive that it is probably about time that the Financial Management Act 1996 had a review. I will be moving an amendment later, but I will speak to it now. The amendment has been circulated. It is to paragraph (6) and seeks to add the words "as it relates to the Act". Any other matter relating to financial management of the Territory could be a little onerous for the committee, I would have thought. I would have thought that relating it to the Act would be a more sensible approach here.

Mr Speaker, I would just like to make some comments on paragraph (5), which relates to the possibility of incorporating environmental and social accounts into the financial management framework. I fully accept that it does say "the possibility". I think it is important to give some background to the Assembly with regard to this paragraph. I wonder whether the Assembly would really want to incorporate it at this stage. In 1996, the Assembly agreed to refer proposed amendments to the Financial Management Bill 1996 to the then Planning and Environment Committee. Those amendments related to environmental accounting. An environmental accounting status paper was prepared in accordance with this commitment and the status paper was tabled in September 1997, outlining the Government's progress in developing an environmental accounting framework. In the tabling speech, comments on the status paper were requested as part of a sensible process for furthering the principles of environmental accounting. To date, though, there has been no comment or guidance on this status paper from the Assembly, not even from the Greens.

That aside, Mr Speaker, there has been no reporting framework, no conceptual framework, developed to enable the proposals to be implemented. Some developmental planning has occurred, with particular focus on local government, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the University of Canberra and the Australian National University are active participants in the early stages of this work. The work is still in the very early developmental stages. It is too early to be legislating where there has not been a generally accepted definition of what constitutes environmental assets and liabilities. The Australian Society of Certified Practising Accountants supports the concept of environmental accounting, but considers that there are many technical issues that still

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