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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 10 Hansard (13 October) . . Page.. 3039 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

I may have more to say at some later time and in another debate in relation to the strategy that is being adopted by the Government, but having a draft budget is not being innovative in the sense that past budgets were able to be treated as draft budgets and have been on one or two occasions. Governments do not put forward budgets which they think will not pass the Assembly, not if they are sensible and want to stay in government.

Mr Humphries said something about information being unused or irrelevant. Information on outputs is precisely the sort of information that the community wants to see when considering a budget. It is precisely the sort of information on which the elected members can assess the Government's performance for the previous financial year and upon which they can base the expected performance of the budget before them, which is an important matter. It can be very dangerous for the Government, because if they make these sorts of predictions and they do not come to fruition they will be criticised. Treasury will be saying, "We do not want to be more open and accountable on this score. Minister, you could find yourself under the microscope being more closely examined, even more intensely focused, if you provide these figures and you are not able to deliver according to the extrapolation. You will have to explain yourself". There is nothing wrong with that. If you have to extrapolate your performance figures for the remaining portion of a financial year and you are not able to deliver at some time in the future, you should have to explain yourself. I do not see anything wrong with that. That is part of being open and accountable.

The Government's reaction to this Bill has been quite extraordinary, given the claims in the past that this Government was open and accountable or that its wishes were to be more open and accountable. If it really wanted to be more open and accountable it would have leapt to the defence of this Bill.

Mr Speaker, I remind members that the Bill provides that the proposed budget shall be prepared in a form that facilitates a comparison, in respect of outputs, between the proposed budget and the budget for a department for the previous financial year - that makes sense - and the expected whole-of-year results for the department for the previous financial year, which is something that we would not know at the point that the budget is tabled. This Government has always said that it is focused on outputs. How many times have members heard the Chief Minister say, "This is not about inputs; this is about outputs. This is about what we produce for the community. This is not about all of that other nonsense. This is about the sorts of services that we deliver for the community."?

An incident having occurred in the chamber -

MR SPEAKER: Order! Remove that man, please.

MR BERRY: Mr Speaker, this is about outputs and this is about requiring the Government to demonstrate that it is prepared to be open and accountable in respect of outputs.

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