Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 10 Hansard (13 October) . . Page.. 3047 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
The budget information that we are provided with has not met the expectations of members. There has been considerable concern about the lack of consistency from year to year. Initially, it was because we were in a period of transition to accrual accounting and it was very hard to compare results from previous years because of the difference in the systems of accounting. We thought that the situation would improve, but there have been changes consistently from year to year and we are still having a great deal of difficulty in making comparisons. Mr Quinlan's proposal today is some effort, some attempt, to make it more possible for the members of this Assembly to gain real information and get a sense of what the Government is actually achieving.
MS CARNELL (Chief Minister) (11.43): Mr Speaker, I find this Bill unusual to say the least. I was very interested in Mr Berry's comments, because I do not think Mr Berry understands what we put on the table now. Mr Berry gave a speech about accountability and how this was a government that talks about an outputs-based budget all the time, and this was us somehow moving away from that. That is simply not the case. It tends to be showing an Assembly that has very little understanding of what outputs-based budgeting is.
I hope Mr Quinlan does understand it, which is the reason I find it interesting that he should put forward this piece of legislation. Unless it was simply to play politics at a particular time of the year! It is important to run through what is actually put on the table now. When we bring down a budget, as we did earlier this year, what is put on the table for everybody, on an output class and an output base, are targets for this financial year. In this case we will use output 1.1 which is public sector management.
We aim at having nine customer service programs during this financial year. It also gives the figures for last financial year, 1998-99, which show five projects. What we did last financial year, and what we are planning to do this financial year, on an output base, is already on the table. Tomorrow I will table the Chief Minister's Department's annual report. In the annual report, in that same output, public sector management output 1.1, what will be tabled right across the Government is a report of what the original target was. On that particular output customer service program we were projecting that we would have five projects during 1998-99.
In the annual report for 1998-99 it lists the original target and what we actually achieved. So if we amended the target during the year, it is listed. If there was a variation, and then an explanation for that variation, it is already on the table. So the outputs are there. The reporting against the outputs is there already. Any changes in output during the year are reported in the annual report. Any reason for the change in the output is reported. What Mr Quinlan is after here is that information that is in the annual report, but earlier. So what Mr Quinlan would like is when we put our - - -
Mr Quinlan: Projection, not result.
MS CARNELL: Sorry, no, that is it. When we put our draft budget on the table in January, he will want - and the target in that particular output class is to have nine customer service programs this year - us to determine whether we are going to achieve those nine in this financial year. We have to look at the information the Government will have to go on.