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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 10 Hansard (13 October) . . Page.. 3033 ..


Debate resumed from 25 August 1999, on motion by Mr Quinlan:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

MR HUMPHRIES (Treasurer, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Community Safety) (10.48): Mr Speaker, the Financial Management Amendment Bill (No 2) 1999 essentially provides that there should be an extra tranche of information available when the budget is presented and that this information should be in the form of a running indication of outputs - a statement or schedule that indicates the outputs for a particular financial year - for the purpose of comparing the budget which is being presented with the budget of the previous financial year, in particular, with the expected whole-of-year results for the department or agency for the previous financial year. Mr Speaker, the most important of those, of course, is the latter. That is the real nub of the proposal which the Opposition is putting forward.

That is a significant additional set of information for the Government to provide in the context of the budget. It is information which is not currently provided. It is information which will necessitate obtaining not merely figures for how particular departments are tracking in terms of financial outcomes, in terms of the amount of money spent or the amount of revenue raised, but also results for a year to date, in effect, with respect to outputs, which, of course, includes things other than the financial results - measures against a whole series of performance indicators which are part of the budget process, which are part of the outputs of departments and agencies within the framework of the budget.

I should say at the outset of the debate that the Government does not shirk from providing information either to the Assembly or to the community. It is not hard to see that the information provided by this Government is well in excess of anything which has been provided in the past in this place. Today there is the most comprehensive amount of information available on budgetary matters that has ever been available to the Assembly and the community. I think that there is a very strong case here for considering whether yet more information of this kind is cost-effective to the Government and to the community which has to bear the cost of providing that additional information.

When you look at the information provided in our budget papers you will see a far more comprehensive set of information than those for any of the States or the Northern Territory. I think we ought to be asking ourselves as an Assembly whether we are actually making use of all the information that we are currently receiving or whether parts of it are largely unread, unused or irrelevant. In particular, we need to ask ourselves how accurate the information would be, how useful the information would be, how much it would cost to provide this information and whether those costs are justified in the context of accuracy and usefulness. Mr Speaker, the Government believes that this amendment fails on those tests and, therefore, does not support the Bill today.

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