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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 2774 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

That, notwithstanding the resolution of the Assembly of 28 April 1998 establishing standing committees:

(1) the annual and financial reports for the financial year 1998-99 presented to the Assembly pursuant to the Annual Reports (Government Agencies) Act 1995 stand referred, on presentation, to the relevant standing committee for inquiry and report by 25 November 1999;

(2) if the Assembly is not sitting when a committee completes its inquiry, that committee may send the relevant report to the Speaker or, in the absence of the Speaker, to the Deputy Speaker who is authorised to give directions for its printing, publication and circulation; and

(3) the foregoing provisions of this resolution have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the standing orders.

At the time the Estimates Committee was established on 22 April 1999, Mr Kaine moved amendments to the Government's motion to remove the reference to the Estimates Committee also examining annual reports. Mr Kaine foreshadowed that, if the Assembly supported his amendments, at a later time amendments would be moved placing the responsibility for examining annual reports on the appropriate portfolio committees. The Government has moved this motion to facilitate Mr Kaine's position and the Government's position on annual reports.

Under the Annual Reports (Government Agencies) Act 1995, all reports must be presented to Ministers within 10 weeks of the end of the reporting year. This means that all financial year reports must be presented to Ministers by 8 September 1999. Ministers then have six sitting days in which to table the reports. The practice has been to table reports during the late September sitting week. This year it will be during the sitting week of 12 to 14 October, simply because we are not sitting at the end of September this year. That week is as early as possible after the reports are presented to Ministers.

The motion will allow an annual report to be examined by the committee that has built up expertise in the area of operation of that particular portfolio. It allows a greater level of scrutiny of the department, as the committee will already be familiar with the activities of the department. The reference of annual reports to standing committees is also consistent with the recommendations of the report of the Review of Governance, which has been tabled and debated in this Assembly. I note that Mr Berry proposes to move an amendment which appears to be quite sensible.

MR BERRY (11.07): Mr Speaker, I move:

After paragraph (2) insert the following new paragraph:

"(2A) that, notwithstanding standing order 229, only one standing committee may meet for the consideration of the inquiry into 1998-99 annual and financial reports at any given period of time;".

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