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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 10 Hansard (14 October) . . Page.. 3178 ..


Operation of the Financial Management Act 1996 -

Statement by Chair

MR QUINLAN: Pursuant to standing order 246A, I wish to inform the Assembly that, at a meeting of the Standing Committee for the Chief Minister's Portfolio, the committee resolved that the following statement be made to the Assembly in relation to the committee's inquiry into the operation of the Financial Management Act 1996.

On behalf of the Standing Committee for the Chief Minister's Portfolio, I will shortly seek agreement of the Assembly to extend the reporting date for the committee's inquiry into the Financial Management Act 1996 to the first sitting day after 30 June next year. The committee's task is formidable. The Financial Management Act is a prime instrument having significant effect and implications for the governance of the ACT. It provides for the financial management of the government of the Territory, the scrutiny of that management by the Assembly and specifies financial reporting requirements for the government.

When enacted in 1996 the Act set new directions in the financial management of the ACT. The objectives were to reinforce the primacy of the Assembly's role in budget and financial accountability process; to promote the highest standards of financial accountability; to enhance transparency in budget decision-making; and to promote improved and better informed management decision. Experience with the Act indicates the need for further reform and adjustment of its provisions. The committee notes that, following recent events, the Department of the Treasury and Infrastructure is reviewing the Financial Management Act in terms of the adequacy of delegations, instruments and guidelines, processes and documentations for the administration of public moneys and the identification of shortcomings or ambiguities in the Act.

The committee has benefited from discussions with the department and is aware that it will be reporting to the Treasurer on the capacity of agencies to effectively manage their areas of responsibility in relation to matters such as monthly and annual financial reporting; budget and appropriations; quarterly performance reporting; banking and investment; borrowing, finance leases and guarantees; trust moneys; and territory authorities.

The committee understands that the Government will seek to have the Financial Management Act amended to remove ambiguities and to establish an appropriate legal base for the financial operations and obligations of government. In view of this, the committee has proposed to the Treasurer that the committee be provided with an exposure draft of the Government's proposed amended Financial Management Act.

This would enable the committee to assess the proposed amendments having regard to other aspects of financial management and would provide a basis for the committee to develop recommendations to the Assembly. In the meantime, the committee will be progressing its inquiry by reference to a broad range of matters of concern taking account of material and information being brought to its attention through the community and elsewhere.

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