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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (29 March) . . Page.. 1174 ..

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001-2002 Budget-Select Committee

Report-government response

MR HUMPHRIES (Chief Minister, Minister for Community Affairs and Treasurer) (3.16): Mr Speaker, for the information of members, I present the following paper:

2001-2002 Budget-Select Committee-Report (presented 13 February 2001)-Government response entitled "The broad parameters of the 2001-2002 budget report".

I move:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

Mr Speaker, the government is of the view that the select committee report on the broad parameters for the 2001-02 budget is a very poor document indeed. I do not believe it has made any useful contribution to the body of information about the next budget or to the debate we have to have in this place about the reports which are to be presented to the Assembly in a few minutes.

I would like members to look at the report very carefully. The report contains a number of recommendations. A large number of those recommendations deal with accounting issues, issues to do with the way in which a final budget is presented. With the greatest of respect to the committee, the broad parameters documentation was not about accounting treatments.

In fact, most of the issues which are touched on in the report were not the subject of questions or debate when the government appeared before the committee. Perhaps "most" is an exaggeration. Many of those items entertained no discussion at all in the presence of government representatives, myself included.

I think it is reasonable to ask what the basis on which those recommendations are made is. Did members of the community makes submissions about these matters? The government certainly did not make recommendations about them. I can only assume that these were the personal views of a member or members of the committee which became the report of the committee.

I do not mind if, in the course of doing its job, the committee happens to stray into areas like accounting treatment in the budget, provided it still gets on and does its job. But the report did not do its job. The report substantially ignored any comment on the things that are important about the draft budget. The report was supposed to be about the budget parameters for 2001-02. How much should we borrow? How much should our deficit or our surplus be? What should our level of borrowings be? What should be the division between the portfolios, between the agencies which make up the government services in this community? Should there be some enlargement of a slice of the pie or a shrinking of a slice of the pie?

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