Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 10 Hansard (13 October) . . Page.. 3041 ..
Mr Corbell: You can discard everything he says anyway.
MR BERRY: A helpful interjection from my colleague would suggest that we should discount everything that he says. I think there is some weight to that argument. At the very least, you have to discount any claim that members of the Government make about openness and accountability as they have stood in opposition to this extremely important amendment which will assist the community to understand the Government's performance. It is extremely important, given the performance on expenditure that we have witnessed in this Government's period of office.
MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (11.21): Mr Berry opened his remarks by stating that all the Government had to do was to extrapolate the figures for a further quarter. Mr Speaker, the data that will be available for the draft budget that we are currently putting together will be for only the first quarter of the financial year. In fact, what you would have to do is extrapolate potentially the three quarters remaining. That is interesting for somebody with the department that I have, as a large amount of the work that my department does is based on the time of the year and the climate. For instance, we have much heavier expenditure in the second and third quarters than we do in the first.
The first point that Mr Berry makes is just wrong. It is not a simple case of extrapolating the figures for the last quarter. You have to take into account the whole of what Urban Services does. For instance, the best time of the year to do line marking is in the warmer months and the best time of the year to reseal is across the Christmas period. Quite clearly, the heaviest time for doing the mowing is through spring and summer. So we are wrong right from the start.
Mr Speaker, what we have here is an amendment seeking more information. When the Government introduced the financial management reforms that it has made it actually ensured the provision of unprecedented levels of information to this Assembly. I suspect that the information being provided is more than many of the members opposite can cope with. This Government started providing financial information on an accrual basis and performance measures on thousands of government services. We have put in details of the forward estimates. The list goes on and on.
Every year since 1996 we have increased the level of information in the budget papers. We have now what I believe to be the most comprehensive set of budget papers of any jurisdiction in the country. They do leave those of many other jurisdictions way behind. It is not just the information we have in them; it is the actual access to them. Putting the budget on disk has allowed even greater access to and use of the budget papers because, of course, anything that is computerised can be searched. I think it was Mr Corbell who made the comment here that the search function on his computer had made using the budget papers even easier.
Not only have we provided more information for all who wish to use the budget papers, but also we have made it easier to access them by the use of CD ROM. That is where the budget is at. But in addition to the budget papers there are the monthly financial management reports and the quarterly performance reports that are already being tabled in the Assembly. Mr Speaker, we provide an amazing amount of information.