Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 10 Hansard (13 October) . . Page.. 3042 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

On top of that, the Government has agreed to provide to the Assembly copies of the monthly ownership reports for the Canberra Hospital, in addition to the quarterly data reports and the monthly activity bulletins. Information is coming out of our ears, Mr Speaker.

As far as this amendment is concerned, those opposite know very well that the information required through this amendment is available to the Assembly under the Financial Management Act on a quarterly basis. It is already there, Mr Speaker. It is not a case of being afraid to provide the information, as has been said; the information is already there. What we need to know is whether those opposite are willing to use the information. They have already got it, but they do not seem to realise that. They choose to ignore that fact or they choose simply not to use it. The information is there, provided quarterly. The Government is open and the Government is accountable.

Mr Speaker, you have to question the purpose of legislation that requires the inclusion in the budget papers of information which is of limited quality. For instance, as I have said, in the lead-up to the draft budget we will have only one quarter of firm data; so it will be of limited quality. The information is already available elsewhere, of better quality, under existing legislation. Under the Financial Management Act it is delivered quarterly and it is there for all to use. As the Treasurer suggested, there would be considerable cost involved in adding this data to the budget papers. We have come to the stage where one has to wonder where the quest for information - seemingly only for information's sake - stops.

Every year we hear how people find it hard to access the budget, how they have not been able to use it. Perhaps they are trying to hide and cover up some of their own inadequacies in dealing with this information by constantly asking for it to be provided in a different format, in more places, with additional notes. We have come to the stage where, every time the Opposition have to go to a document other than the budget papers, they have to seek an amendment to legislation.

I think we have to ask ourselves in the Assembly whether the costs involved are justified by the quality and the usefulness of the information that this amendment will bring forward. In fact, the Assembly needs to ask itself whether it is making full and best use of the information that it already gets before it supports any legislation for more information.

Mr Berry started off on the wrong foot; he got it wrong again. He was wrong because he said that it was simply a matter of just adding in an extrapolation for the last quarter. As the Treasurer said, that is clearly not so. You really have to query this Bill and the way that it is being delivered. Mr Speaker, the Government will oppose the legislation.

MR HARGREAVES (11.27): I am a bit amazed that the Government is opposing Mr Quinlan's amendment to the legislation because - - -

Mr Humphries: No, you are not.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .