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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (13 February) . . Page.. 28 ..

MR OSBORNE (continuing):

Mr Speaker, I will speak about a couple of the recommendations. The first recommendation is about the draft budget process. The committee looked at it and felt that it would be a better option if all the standing committees were required to look at the budget. I understand that there will be a motion on that coming before the Assembly today and I am sure that members will speak further to that issue.

There are a number of recommendations about consultation and dealing with the community. I think it is fair to say that the community groups that appeared before the committee are quite open to a better consultation process; but there was concern from some members of the committee that if we are to continue down this path of having draft budgets, broad parameters and those types of inquiries, it is important that the government continue to do its own consulting with the community as well and not leave it all up to non-executive members. I am sure that other members will speak about that.

Mr Speaker, there are a number of recommendations in relation to the information provided which, again, I am praying Mr Quinlan will speak to. I have to say that I found it a worthwhile exercise. I think that most of us on the committee are looking to a more open and consultative process in relation to the budget. Obviously, we all have different ideas on how that is best achieved, but I think it is much better to have some input than to have none at all, which has been what has happened in the past.

I have taken up four minutes, Mr Speaker, which is about 31/2 minutes more than I thought I would. I thank my committee members for being patient and I look forward to their adding to my very weighty comments. I commend the report to the Assembly, Mr Speaker.

MR QUINLAN (12.18): Firstly, let me compliment Mr Osborne on his incisive chairmanship of this committee. Recommendation 1 says that, if we continue with a draft budget process, the consultation processes involving standing committees should not be optional. Let me point out that that is a majority recommendation; some of us do not think that the draft budget process is as useful as others. Nevertheless, we all involved ourselves in this process because that was the will of the Assembly.

I have to agree with Mr Osborne that the support was exemplary, particularly from Jenny Aked. Out of our quite wide-ranging hearings and meetings, she put together a rather sensible report, albeit one that might be a little weighted towards some presentational technicalities, but we should not allow those to subsume some of the important recommendations that are contained herein.

Mr Osborne has already mentioned the recommendations that relate to promotion and information to community groups and business groups to involve them in the budget process. We should not allow the layers of budget process that we now have to inhibit the process of stakeholder communication directly with government. With the best will in the world, no committee can communicate directly what it has been told without placing some sort of interpretation on it, because we all hear things through our own subjective standpoints and pass them on. We have all been involved in the humour of Chinese whispers. There is a solid base for that humour.

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